Wyatt Andrews reported on CBS Evening News last night that “After 13 years of war, a new survey of veterans today found many suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome are not satisfied with the care they’re receiving from the Veterans Administration (VA)”
The “survey” was an American Legion survey of VA patients that found “59 percent of veterans report that their PTSD symptoms are not improving or are getting worse.”
The VA was quick to point out that “49% of PTSD patients did report getting better, and officials said they would use the survey to help them learn what works.”
One of the more interesting parts of the report was that “both the Pentagon and the VA have attacked the PTSD problem without measuring what kind of therapy works.”
Members of Congress are doing what they do best: throwing money at the problem. CBS reported the “VA budget for mental health has risen 61 per cent in six years, to $7.2 billion.”
Although many in Congress would disagree, more money is not always the best solution.
Veterans I’ve known over the years both professionally and personally who suffered from PTSD have said the PTSD care from the VA is gradually improving, but one of their biggest concerns is continuity of care. Some veterans have said that just about the time they develop a relationship and trust with the counselor, the counselor’s contract with the VA ends or the counselor may move and the veteran is left to start over. Many feel abandoned.
Veterans suffering from PTSD need stability. They don’t need surprises. That is why Congress should look at allowing veterans with PTSD to use local mental health professionals. This would allow veterans to establish a relationship with someone who has a better chance of being with them for the long haul.
With the mess recently discovered in the VA, now is a great time for Congress and the VA to work out a plan that will allow veterans to get their healthcare locally – and that plan should include mental healthcare.
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