Recent research has revealed that the majority of Veterans with a mental disorder under-utilize mental health services . Among OEF/OIF Active Duty Veterans, only 23-40% of those with mental
The VA runs the largest substance use disorder treatment program in the world. Treatment of veterans with SUDs and co-occurring psychiatric disorders is one of the following three paradigms; parallel, sequential, and integrated. Most VA programs are parallel, where the patient receives treatment for SUD in one program and treatment for PTSD in another. Many SUD-PTSD veterans may be unable to navigate the separate systems or make sense of the disparate messages about PTSD treatment and recovery. One challenge to dissemination and implementation of EBTs is that of dual disorders, particularly SUD and PTSD. These patients use costly inpatient services, tend to have frequent relapses, and are less likely to adhere to or complete treatment.
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) has been tasked with providing support and benefits to Veterans after they have completed their service. However, many Veterans are reporting difficulty accessing care due to systematic barriers within the VA’s Veterans Health Administration (Oliver, 2007). Complex eligibility requirements, long wait lists and lack of providers are a few of the issues Veterans are faced with when trying to access health and mental health care. Additionally, studies indicate that veterans, predominantly those from the recent wars in Iran and Iraq, have disproportionately high amounts of mental illness (Shim & Rust, 2013). These same veterans are experiencing difficulty accessing mental health care due to issues around a backlog of healthcare eligibility applications and a shortage of mental health providers through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which operates the Nation’s largest, integrated health care delivery system (APA, 2014). In 2014, at the request of the Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) evaluated the merit of the allegations of mismanagement at the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) and the Health Eligibility Center (HEC).
“Mentally Ill” that phrase pops up every now and then. We usually hear in the news, “a young man shot up an entire elementary school, sources say he’s mentally ill” or “a mentally ill child killed his/her parents last night while they slept”. It is also common to hear it associated with returning veterans. That’s almost normal; we can understand that they’ve been through horrifying situations, so of course there is going to be side effects. But there is a wide range of mental health conditions that is not limited to only war veterans. According to The Huffington Post, 25% of the adults in America experience mental illness, but only 36% receive treatment. So what is happening to the 64%? Why aren’t they receiving treatment? Mental illness is
These words left the pen of judge Stephen Reinhardt two years ago from the 9th circuit court of appeals on a case of veterans against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); The dispute for a veterans right to healthcare is still raging. The United States is facing a larger population of veterans every year, who suffer from a number of debilitating ailments, and finding itself with less means to take care of them. The VA is allowing health assessments go unnoticed for years due to lack of funding. Without this necessary treatment veterans who suffer from mental disorders like depression, anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will build up tension and develop a risk for breakdowns which can cause not only mental, but physical damage to themselves and their community. These valiant men and women deserve proper treatment by means of formal evaluation, cognitive therapy, and monitored medication. Our service members have been promised treatment and it is our obligation as a country is to ensure it is
Both articles identify the issue of providing mental health services for veterans with an extra emphasis on those that served in Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF veterans). It is no surprise that returning veterans suffer from both visible/invisible (physical and mental) wounds. Most veterans have this “high” expectation that they are going to receive quality care from both the DoD and VA. Unfortunately reality steps in where veterans are slapped in the face because they are receiving a lack of poor quality care all while jumping through Beuracractic hoops. The challenges faced to access these services include resistance, stigma, lack of professionalism, and geographic and/or regional disparities in the distribution of services resources and/or benefits, and the system simply refusing to change.
Rates of trauma and mental illness are reported to be disproportionately higher among American veterans, especially those of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The barriers to care after civilian reentry further disadvantage this already vulnerable population. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been the longest sustained US military operations since the Vietnam era, sending more than 2.2 million troops into battle and resulting in more than 6,600 deaths and 48,000 injuries. Veterans are at risk mental health challenges, as well as family instability, elevated rates of homelessness, and joblessness. Veterans have disproportionate rates of mental illness, particularly posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse disorders, depression, anxiety, and military sexual trauma.
I found a number of services that are currently available to Veterans that suffer from PTSD and their families such as counseling for individuals, groups, and families at all Va hospitals.
For many years, the VA has offered health care to the men and women who have surrendered a large part of their lives to protect our nation. The VA has made great stride in providing specialized services to veterans such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and Mental Health treatment. In fact, the VA is leading the field on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) research, but now that many of our men and women are returning home from war, the commitment that the VA made to provide accessible health services and a smooth transition from military life back to civilian life to these heroes and their dependents are not being granted in a timely manner. Studies show that suicide among veterans is the number one leading cause of death in the United States and
“The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is home to the United States’ largest integrated health care system” (Mason e.t. al 2016). Because of technological and medical advancement, surviving injuries from war has lead to a greater need for post deployment and discharge care. I often hear the phrase “Freedom is not free”; the mental health of our active duty soldiers and veterans is one area that ends up costing America. Some lose time with their families, some are injured physically and mentally, and some lose their lives.
According to Connor, Jones, Watts, Shiner, and Stecker (2013), “[o]nly about one quarter of active duty troops with psychiatric disorders actually receive treatment services” (p. 280).These researchers conducted a study using a qualitative analysis method by means of an intensive cognitive-behavioral telephone interview lasting approximately forty-five to fifty minutes. The participants consisted of approximately 300 service members who were recruited within a three year time frame, beginning in November 2009 and ending in January 2012. The makeup of the participants included: 84% percent male, 67% Caucasian, 13% African Americans, and 9% Latinos. The sample identified participants from forty-eight to fifty states including veterans from all branches of military service. Research findings revealed four primary reasons veterans do not seek treatment for PTSD symptoms: concerns about treatment (40%), emotional readiness for treatment (35%), stigma (16%), and logical issues (8%) (p. 282-283). Overall, the research concludes that if there is an increase in veterans seeking treatment for PTSD after serving military time then the primary care physician should emphasize to the veterans upfront certain expectations. These expectations include
Future Research: Effective treatments for PTSD and depression exist, yet there are disparities in how these treatments are being geographically/regionally dispersed. Above, we highlighted key challenges: veterans’ perceptions of the negative consequences of seeking care; inadequate availability of mental health professionals; diverse and often competing mental health specialties and training approaches that inadequately prepare many practitioners to deliver evidence-based treatments for combat-related disorders or to understand military experience (Burnam et. al, 2009); and limited dissemination and implementation of QI strategies in mental health care settings . Overcoming these obstacles will require federal, state, and local leadership.
Veterans are everywhere throughout the United States, but just because they are everywhere, doesn’t meant they are getting the proper care. According to the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of America, “One in three veterans return home and suffer from some sort of mental health issue.” Their mental health issues vary from post traumatic stress disorder to anxiety and depression. The switch from fighting everyday to being home is tough for the veterans and they need to receive the proper treatment so they can possibly live a life as normal as possible. The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, started a $810,000 program to support these veterans with their issues returning home. The transition is hard, not
The mission statement of the VA Social Workers is to eliminate significant barriers to clients in need and offer interventions for veterans and families. It is accomplished by developing and maintaining integrated, in-depth programs in patient care, research, and education (Hoffer, Elizabeth. F., Dekle, Judith. Ward., & Sheets, Carol., 2014). Its proposed 11 percent to 20 percent of Iraq, Afghanistan veterans as well as 30 percent of Vietnam vets encounter (PTSD) posttraumatic stress disorder traumatic incidents like combat can lead to PTSD, military sexual trauma of military service member, and veterans may possibly deal with depression, anxiety in addition to other mental health concerns. Vets distress from these mental health and cognitive
As awareness grows relating to the mental health problems of those who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), much of the focus has been on providing adequate and effective care to the newest population of combat veterans. Although efforts have significantly increased with the employment of Evidence Based Practices (EBP) and while the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA), have updated their clinical practice guidelines, barriers remain and reaching the majority of this particular population remains a challenge.