Friday, April 20, 2012

VA to hire 1,600 Mental Health Care Providers

Army Times recently reported:
The Veterans Affairs Department announced Thursday that it plans to hire 1,600 nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers to bolster its staff of mental health providers.
As part of an “ongoing review of VA’s mental health operations,” officials said they plan to launch an immediate recruiting and hiring effort in its 21 service networks.
“History shows that the costs of war will continue to grow for a decade or more after the operational missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended. As more veterans return home, we must ensure that all veterans have access to quality mental health care,” VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said.
VA has come under fire from advocacy groups and members of Congress for its shortcomings in accommodating veterans’ behavioral health care needs.
Reports of veterans having problems getting appointments or receiving adequate long-term care have vexed lawmakers responsible for overseeing VA.
“With suicide rates that continue to be high and an influx of new veterans into the system, these barriers to mental health care are completely unacceptable,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairwoman, said Thursday.
According to Murray, VA announced the hiring initiative in advance of the release of a VA Inspector General’s report on appointment waiting times, expected before next Wednesday.
“I am pleased that VA has taken this desperately needed step toward providing timely access to mental health care,” she said.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said more needs to be done to fill vacancies at VA medical centers nationwide. In some areas, he said, the vacancy rates for mental health practitioners are as high as 23 percent.
“There is a surge of veterans coming home, and VA must be prepared to meet their needs. If they are unable to do so, it is imperative that VA find community-based providers to match the right treatment for each veteran. Right now, too many veterans fall through the cracks,” Miller said.
VA currently employs 20,590 mental health specialists and clerical staff. The new hires, plus 300 planned clerical support staff, would represent a 9 percent increase in mental health workers at VA.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing April 25 on barriers for veterans in obtaining mental health care.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This shouldn't be viewed as a free pass for the military. The military's unwritten rule is to get people out and tell them to go see the VA. That said, the VA is behind the power curve, but people need to understand that the military discharges service members often without caring for the veteran and in some cases is responsible for traumatic events in the lives of the veterans that but for the military's failure or inaction, the traumatic event(s) would not have occurred.

Syneeda said...

Anon... AMEN!!

Anonymous said...

Anon, I’ve heard basically the same thing about the military, except that it is the unwritten “policy” to get people out and tell them to go to the VA. The military philosophy is that the VA exists as a dumping ground for service members that are of no further use to the military. The military needs to get rid of those people so that they can get a new body. It’s a budget thing and the sooner the member is no longer a member, the sooner the military can get a replacement. It’s a matter of mandated end-strength and cost. The military doesn’t want any cost coming from its budget if it can be avoided. In fact, I personally know two Army individuals who are medically “retired” from the Army but the Army is not paying them their retirement claiming that their VA compensation at 100% exceeds their military retirement, therefore it offsets all of their Army medical retirement. Apparently the Army is either unaware of concurrent receipt or it is deliberately trying to screw the member who put his/her life on the line. Shame on the military.

As for Anon’s comment about traumatic events, I’m assuming it refers to non-combat traumatic events, such as the military’s retaliation against members, military or civilian, who do the right thing, like blowing the whistle on corruption and the resulting attacks against those individuals.

Syneeda, I think I read where you had mentioned the Service Secretary, Donald Winter, as the Secretary of the Navy who “approved” or authorized the retaliation against you for whistleblowing. To be more precise, it was Doctor Donald C. Winter, who is a documented discriminator and retaliator who has actually issued orders to retaliate against individuals. Falsifying records or documents was one of the means of accomplishing his retaliation. As you know, complaints and charges have been made against this individual, and those charges and complaints have been deeply buried with the aid of IGs. We already know about Leonard C. Trahan Jr. of the DoD Hotline, and the Navy’s Jill Loftus who has earned the title “Queen of Denial.” Framing innocent people is a traumatic experience for the innocent individual. Trahan has the best documented record of the framing of innocent people. I don’t recall where I heard or read the name given to Dr. Donald C. Winter, but it was the “Doctor of Discrimination.” I think it should be modified to be “Doctor of Discrimination and Retaliation.”

Syneeda said...

Anon,
I don't believe in name calling but if the shoe fits...

Within our military exist a certain mindset and you described it accurately in you first paragraph.

Earlier this year the VA awarded me 100% disability compensation, stating that I'm permanent and totally disabled.

Before I was discharged I never received a separation physical and began chemotherapy treatment for an incurrable blood disorder just two weeks prior to my separation.

During this time, the hematology dept at Balboa Medical Center held a medical board recommending 1 year limited duty so they can monitor my body's reaction to the chemo.

My commanding officer intervened and told the JAG at Balboa that I was being discharged because of misconduct and I was to be discharged on July 31, 2009.

I retained the services of an attorney and filed a petition for an injunction. This was the petition I filed against Secretary Ray Mabus. The petition was denied and I was subsequently discharged.

I never received a medical debrief prior to being discharged with a highly toxic chemo medication.

Out of concern for my own health and safety, I decided to go to the VA hospital the following week to have my blood tested. Keep in mind, I developed this blood disorder while on active duty and my command officials tossed me out like I was toxic waste, pardon the pun.

Amazingly, when I arrived at the VA hospital I was given the “Red Carpet” treatment, as if they were expecting me.

It usually take years of fighting with the VA to approve a disability compensation claim awarding a veteran 100% compensation, they approved mine in less than three.

This further proves the abuse I endured as a military whistleblower.

Trust me, I can go on and on about their cruel and unusual mistreatment towards me, which is why I decided to write a book about it.

Anonymous said...

That's amazing. They just don't care when they are set on retaliating. No physical and no medboard......that's criminal.
I have to agree with the second Anon. I've heard stories about the previous Secretary and they weren't nearly as tame as the "Doctor of Discrimination." I remember hearing one story where this Dr. Donald C. Winter was so desperate to get himself out of trouble that he did the unthinkable--he tried to play the mental card with a veteran, trying to say that the vet was crazy and that the retaliation wasn't real. To make a long story short, the dirt-bag failed in his effort, except for absolutely proving the retaliation and making his place in history as a "Doctor of Discrimination" and retaliation who crapped all over his office by doing that unthinkable act with a combat veteran.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the previous Anonymous didn’t notice that you did have a medboard but your retaliators caused the denial of the medboard’s recommendation. Maybe Anon was getting at the fact that there were medical issues and the military didn’t care because they just needed to get rid of you and they justify doing that and knowing that there are medical issues by telling people to go to the VA. I think that’s the point of the second Anon’s post with the comment of the VA being a “dumping ground” for those individuals who wear the cloth of this country and then become the victims of those who abuse their authority and power to cover their tracks. You mentioned Mabus, who could have changed what was set in motion, but that didn't happen. By extension, and by allowing the retaliators to continue, the discrimination and retaliation falls on Mabus!

Syneeda said...

Finally, someone who gets it... I did catch the previous anon's comment and his insinuation towards former Sec. Winter. Frankly my recollection of him as the SECNAV is a blur. I was busy serving onboard the USS GONZALEZ, aiding with combating pirate attacks in the gulf to care about who was serving as the Navy's SECNAV at the time.

My discharge orders was signed off by the Asst SECNAV within a few months of Mabus taking office. I don't blame him for the actions of Senior Navy officials who orchestrated my discharge. Similar to the rape epidemic, the leaked photographs, the urination on dead corpse and a laundry list of other issues that's going on in the military, I blame it on the failed military leadership, from the top down!

Just last year alone, the Navy fired over 25 Commanding Officers and so far this year, the number is rising, soon to set a new record.

I spent 20 years in uniform and I know what goes own behind the military's iron curtain. So no matter what my command officials have tried to say negative about me, there well over 50,000 abused veterans standing in line to tell horror stories about their abusive experiences in the U.S. military.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand your comment about insinuation. It sounds like the majority of what happened to you happened on Winter's watch. Are you saying that he didn't allow it? Or did he allow it? Are the service secretaries responsible or not? Did the head of GSA recently resign because her agency failed in its duty to the taxpayer? You say you blame it on the failed military leadership, from the top down. Of course, you know that the "Doctor of Discrimination" was at the top of that leadership, right?

Syneeda said...

Anon, I stand corrected, Yes, Winter was on watch during the entire time I was experiencing my ordeal. And YES, as the service secretary he was overall responsible and accountable to the SECDEF to uphold every "minority" service member's Civil Rights!