Disabled Veterans National Foundation Applauds Department of Veterans Affairs for Responding to Increasing Needs of Veterans for Mental Health Services

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The Disabled Veterans National Foundation(DVNF), a non-profit organization that exists to help men and women who come home with emotional and physical wounds after serving our country, supports the Department of Veterans Affairs for its plan to significantly increase its staff of mental health workers. Addressing the mental health needs of veterans is a major emphasis of the DVNF, which was founded six years ago to advocate for all disabled veterans.

The move by the VA is in response to the growing number of men and women soldiers returning from war needing help for emotional and psychological disorders.

“The invisible wounds of war – such as post traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries and depression – are debilitating and as deserving of immediate intervention and treatment as physical injuries,” said Raegen Rivers, Chief Administrative Officer of the DVNF. “Our collective goal is to bring hope to our heroes, and our country must have the resources in place to immediately intervene and offer help whenever a veteran comes home in need of mental health services.”

The VA announced April 19th that it would add 1,600 clinicians, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers and counselors, and about 300 support staff, in order to deal with a shortage that has become apparent as more veterans return home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The department’s current mental health staff is about 20,590.

The move is in response to a VA review that revealed shortages in mental health staff nationwide, leading veterans in some areas to wait longer than they should for treatment, according to VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel. Since 2007, the VA has experienced a 35 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving mental health services. In recent years, suicide rates have risen and surveys have shown that mental health providers cannot schedule a new patient for an appointment within the VA-mandated two weeks. Seventy percent of providers reported that they lack sufficient space and staff to properly treat new and existing patients.

Recruitment for the new positions will begin immediately, with the VA drawing from the military, the private sector and from schools.

About Disabled Veterans National Foundation: DVNF exists to change the lives of men and women who came home wounded or sick after defending our safety and freedom. A non-profit 501(c)(3), DVNF was founded in the fall of 2007 by six women veterans to expand their scope of work within the veteran's community. For more information, visit http://www.dvnf.org.

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Raegan Rivers, Chief Administrative Officer
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