With suicides of members of the armed forces now causing more deaths than combat fatalities, it’s high time we started looking for more effective methods of helping our veterans cope with depression and other mental and emotional issues.
A story today on FederalNewsRadio.com highlights a new executive order signed by President Obama on Friday which will call for interagency assistance in making more and better mental health resources available to our veterans.
Among its many provisions, the order tells VA to boost the capacity of its veterans’ crisis hotline by 50 percent and to ensure that a veteran who identifies him or herself as in emotional distress gets seen by a mental health professional within 24 hours.
The order also tells the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Education to develop a national research action plan to improve early diagnosis and treatment capabilities for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. DoD and HHS will also undertake a comprehensive nationwide study on mental health to improve treatment outcomes.”
The article highlights the many challenges of trying to get better mental health care to veterans, including a lack of mental health professionals, especially in rural areas.
It’s important to note that even with the support of the Veteran Affairs Committee in Congress and an executive order from our President, funding of these programs is still an issue.
“There are a lot of competing interests for resources. If Congress doesn’t fully fund the VA or the DoD in reference to these initiatives, yeah, there’s a possibility none of this will ever happen,” Bertges [of the American Legion] said. “But understanding the president’s directive in this executive order, I think agencies are going to do everything in their power to make this happen.”
President Obama, when addressing soldiers at Fort Bliss insists that Congress still needs to act to make sure that more cuts don’t happen. This is especially important when one considers that July showed an unprecedented number of veteran suicides, double that of the month of June.
What do you think of the proposed interagency support for mental health resources for veterans? Is it possible that it will make a difference? What do you think would be the best way to offer support to our veterans who have endured over a decade of war and most often multiple deployments to combat zones?
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