The Veterans Department lacks the staff and space to deal with a burgeoning number of veterans seeking mental health care, a survey of VA doctors, nurses, and social workers revealed. The survey was requested by the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs following a hearing where veterans complained of long waits for treatment, The Washington Post
The survey found that 70 percent thought the VA lacked the staff and space to treat veterans and 37 of the 272 respondents said they are unable to schedule an appointment in their clinics for a new patient within the 14-day standard mandated by the department, the Post reported.
“The sad truth is that veterans who call to get a VA appointment have at least made the decision to reach out to VA for help,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the committee, wrote in a letter sent Monday to the VA, according to the Post. “That is the critical step in accessing care, and it is not acceptable to have veterans, who have stepped up and shown the courage to ask for help, be denied that care.”
More than 1.2 million veterans were treated by the VA for a mental health problem last year including 408,000 with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Four years ago, the number was 934,000. Some 18 veterans on average commit suicide every day, the Post reported.
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