Despite significant attention to the problem, U.S. veterans still must work through major barriers if they need mental-health or substance-abuse treatment, a new survey has concluded.
In theory, this problem should be easing. The Veterans Mental Health Act, which requires the VA to partner with community mental health centers and expand service, was signed a year ago. Unfortunately for veterans, significant barriers to access still remain.
For example, two-thirds of survey respondents said that vets and their families face long waits to get initial crisis appointments, and often must wait excessive periods between appointments. Also, though some don't have access to a car, or even public transit, many veterans are forced to travel great distances to get to a VA facility or military base.
Meanwhile, many are--justifiably, if other sources are accurate--afraid that they'll be stigmatized if they seek VA-based treatment. Vets say they're concerned that their care will make it into their personnel records and impact their military career, or that they'll be seen as weak.
The survey, which was conducted by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, went out to 1,600 members who provide treatment and rehabilitation for mental illnesses and addictions.
To learn more about this issue:
- read this press release
VA looking to modernize to improve care
VA program slashes MRSA infection rates
SPOTLIGHT: Obama signs veterans' medical bill into law