Clay Hunt Act complements VA’s ongoing commitment to mental health


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The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act complements VA’s on-going, multi-faceted efforts to improve mental health care for our nation’s Veterans, and I’m pleased that both houses of Congress came together to pass the SAV Act. I’m proud to stand with President Obama on Thursday as he signs this important legislation.

The health and well-being of the courageous men and women who have served in uniform is VA’s highest priority. And we’re working hard to provide timely access to the highest quality recovery-oriented mental health care that anticipates and responds to Veterans’ needs and supports their reintegration back into their communities.

We know that a growing number of Veterans are seeking mental health care, and VA has deployed significant resources and increases in staff toward mental health services. VA provides a continuum of forward-looking outpatient, residential, and inpatient mental health services across the country. We have many entry points for care: through our medical centers, more than 800 community-based outpatient clinics, 300 Vet Centers that provide readjustment counseling, the Veterans Crisis Line, VA staff on college and university campuses, and other outreach efforts. VA offers expanded access to mental health services with longer clinic hours, telemental heath capability to deliver services, and standards that mandate rapid access to mental health services.

While we know that the suicide rate is lower for those Veterans who use VA health care, losing just one Veteran to suicide is one too many. So, VA will continue to develop and improve mental health and suicide prevention services so that Veterans who reach out for help receive that help when and where they need it.

Last August, President Obama announced 19 executive actions to improve access to mental health services for service members, veterans, and their families – building on progress made since the President’s 2012 Executive Order and myriad steps VA has taken over the past 6 years to improve mental health services.

Veterans Crisis LineFor example, following the 2012 Executive Order, VA increased its mental health staffing, expanded the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and www.VeteransCrisisLine.Net), enhanced its partnerships with community mental health providers, and increased suicide prevention awareness efforts.

In addition, under the President’s 19 executive actions announced last August, we are working to improve service members’ transition from DOD to VA, both to ensure that service members receiving mental health care are connected to mental health professionals as they transition to VA and that their mental health medications follow them from DOD to VA. We are also working to improve care coordination between VA and DoD and strengthen community resources for those with mental health issues. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for America Veterans Act will help us to build on this critical work to provide the care and services veterans have earned.

Sgt. Clay Hunt’s death was a tragedy. Together with the President, Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, and both profit and non-profit community partners, we will continue working to make monumental, historic strides to improve mental health care for those who have borne the battle.

This blog is cross-posted from the White House Blog. Watch this video to learn more about some of the ways VA is treating combat veterans with mental health needs.

Author

Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald was the eighth Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Comments

  1. ka heller    

    the VA in Omaha is a joke. my husband has been there numerous times both apt and walk in for ptsd and depression and he leaves the same he came in….depressed and mad. he went for a ptsd eval and was told he has signs and symptoms but does not meet all in one or more catergories. he was told to come back and try again when hes worse. so because hes not suicidal or a danger he can not be treated?

  2. carl leo smith    

    I am viet nam vet with parkinsons-have received excellent care in Clarksburg and Pittsburgh va.
    no compression with with lack of concern on outside. had a stroke in nov 14–Clarksburg va excellent care.

  3. Kim Worland    

    I hope and pray that we see improvements for the mental health dept ! My husband has been asking for help for several years now 🙁 and was just hospitalized over Christmas 2014 because of his Meds and a very cruel rude NP that was caring for him ! He’s been suffering since ( 1968 ) and still after all these years his PTSD is not under control nor can he get his meds correct !

  4. Jim Brisse    

    I don’t know about other VA hospitals in the country but the Minneapolis VA treats us vet’s pretty darn good. Mental health issues are hard to treat. Combined with physical disabilities the doctors have to prioritize, decisions have to be made on how to best treat your husband, wife, friend, whatever, it’s your vet. You want it fixed, now. Don’t happen that way, not with mental health not at a private doctor or the VA. Sometimes the VA is slow we know that, hell it’s a federal agency. But when they move they spare no cost to provide you with world class care. I had a heart attack last Monday, within a half hour I was in the cath lab being prep’ed for surgery. Released two days later I’ve had six follow up phone calls checking that I was doing well, that was all provided at no cost. We lost our home to foreclosure in January, the VA stepped in and offered us HUD-VASH, we’ll be in a nice three bedroom apartment in March, a psychiatrist came a see me while I was in the hospital offering his services, I see him next week. Show me any private insurance that is willing to provide any of the services the VA does at no cost and I’ll signup. I’m 60% disabled, I’m headshot and I’m a Marine, I’m also damm grateful.

  5. Rachel Humphrey    

    ok now lets help the parents of children with Autism. I’m not sure why they VA pays for the delivery of every child to an Vet. But doesn’t pay for insurance from there. It’s more expensive to get medical insurance just for children alone. So Vets are required to get themselves other care in order to get insurance for the children the VA knows is theirs. It just makes so sense to me. PLUS they give medical to dependance with Spinal bifida but nothing else. Why is that worse than Autism or other medical issues?

  6. Danny    

    I have attempted suicide twice. Now that I am happy & off drugs I’m glad it didn’t work. We are all on this earth for a reason. Most of us don’t know what that reason is, & we get tired of the hassles we have to go thru during our time here, BUT we keep going. To me, the determining factor was that I was not going to lose a fight with an enemy that I could only see when I looked in the mirror. Sometimes it is easier to blame everyone else, when all you need to do is look deep inside yourself. Not always! Men & women that have been thru the kind of hell that we veterans have face a unique enemy, one that was seen & conquered, yet refuses to go away. R.I.P. Sgt. Hunt, & all of our fallen brothers & sisters. Thank You, to all involved in the establishment of this memorial to them.

  7. Patrick jahnke    

    Why did one told me IF U CANT STOP THE PAIN, I CAN NOT SEE U NOMORE!!!!!!

  8. David W. Smith    

    I feel the same thing is happening that happen Last FEB of 2014 When I had a real bad reaction to a medication and I was SO VERY CONFUSED that I called metal health for a whole month and Not even stable enough to know that it was the medication that had me all screwed up. Now the same thing is happening with NO COMMUNICATION FROM MENTAL HEALTH. I have been wanting to get the name brand meds I have to take and I can’t seem to get any action taken on it. I feel Vulnerable to the point, I don’t want to make the Doctor who has my own happiness in his hands and I’m afraid of backlash if I call in my Senator. (ENZI) All I want is my medication and I don’t even have refills for the Generic yet alone the brand name and I talk to the mental health nurse and he told me he told my Doctor I need to get the papers back soon so I could find a Pharmacy that can get this name brand and now I’m waiting to get the Generic just in case my Doctor keeps siting on it. LAST FEBRUARY I had to figure out on my own that the medication was making me do things that made no sense. NOW I’m no0t getting the action I need so very bad. Capers Mental Health has let me down over and over again. NOW I’M AFRAID TO COMPLAIN

    1. David W. Smith    

      No reply to my post yet. But I wanted to say that when Your Very Feeling of Well Being Is in the hands of Your Doctor and your being ignored, It can be frightening to make a formal complaint. Dave Smith- VET

      1. Mary    

        David, I hear you. Please don’t give up. Have you tried to contact Give-an-Hour? It is a service that provides free counseling services to service members and veterans. They mught be able to get you the help that you need. Here is the website to go to. My name is Mary and I am one of the mental health practitioners that works with veterans. I’ll check back should you have any questions or need assistance. http://www.giveanhour.org/

        Mary

  9. Melanie Anderson    

    Our closest VA is 250 miles away with telemed service. It is disgusting. My husbanf walked out on us again today. We have had to go to private drs to get help. The VA has given him the wrong meds, put him off for months after he finally called in, suicidal. They canceled 3 appointments in a row because they were too busy. When I called the Veteran’s Crisis Line, they accidentally sent me to a civilian line. They had no idea what to do. The crisis line called me back 6plus hours later. I was already in the ER with him, looking at a BHC admission. This was December. They sent a referral to his clinic (in another state) who called me two weeks later. It’s a joke. This law still doesn’t work. My husband is still not doing okay and every six weeks he goes mental and takes off and police get called in to find him. He gets more and more polar every time and a once confident and secure man has become a husk of a human being. It doesn’t matter hiw many laws get signed if they don’t get implemented and the nearest VA is in another state more than 200 miles away.

    1. dru    

      I totally agree with you. I have the same problem with my husband. Our VA is 100 miles from us. And I think they think he’s not as sick he is, they don’t want to keep to get the meds right. He is bi polar/depression. They talk to him and me like dogs, but he always has to go back because I can’t handle him. This has been going on for about 8 months. We get no benefits of any kind, have talked to C/P person but has not got information back that was a month ago. Need VA help in ARKANSAS.

  10. Debbie    

    Cudos to the VA for helping veterans. Too many people do not understand a sacrifice for our country…

  11. Wilson Cruz-Saldana    

    Long over due. I thank all who had a hand in getting this bill approved. I speak for all veterans that this should have been in affect long ago. Thanks again, to all involved.

  12. Ellsworth Williams    

    The key is how each VISN implements it.

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