A holistic approach to treating Veterans with mental illness

Dr. Donna explains why she’s a fan of VHA’s holistic approach to mental illness


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Dr. Donna has been a staff psychologist at VA for 26 years. Recently she began running a new program called the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center, which supports VA’s holistic approach to the treatment of mental illness.

 “I’m thrilled to work at VA because there’s so much opportunity and openness to trying innovative things and prioritizing the patient at the center of the care. I don’t even like to use the word ‘patient’; I think it’s Veteran-centered care here.”

Find out more about Dr. Donna’s experience as a VHA psychologist working in a Veteran-centered environment for over two decades.

Partnering with Veterans

“At VHA we look at the whole picture of the person and develop a Veteran-centered program that’s going to address their problem. This Veteran-centered culture has been remarkable for seeing this change. It’s been a personal journey for me, too, learning it’s not all about the medication.

“Our program focuses on the rehabilitation of the Veteran and partnering with the Veteran to ask: What is it that you want to do with your life? We can focus on what’s right with them and then we build an individual education program around what they want.”

A whole approach to Veteran care

“We focus on a Veteran’s strengths, needs and preferences. The VA has been very proactive in looking at holistic treatments. This particular facility is developing an entire building that’s going to be devoted to acupuncture, yoga-based wellness, tai chi, and massage. It’s empowering the Veteran to be involved in every aspect of their care. What I see every day are these little recovery journeys.”

 A collaborative and multidisciplinary environment

“It’s a wonderful place to work. The VA is supportive of research, teaching, and any kind of innovations that you’re interested in that are Veteran-centered. I have so much gratification doing these things with my Veterans myself. I roll up my sleeves and lead by doing; I lead by service. At the core, you have to want to serve. I feel privileged to serve those who serve us.”

 Explore opportunities to work as a psychologist with VHA. Don’t wait – Join VA now. Or, consider volunteering your time and talents to help our Nation’s Veterans through Care Enough to Share .

Of course, we have many other opportunities in mental health and other health care disciplines. Check out all our current job openings at VA Careers.

Author

Dan Green

Comments

  1. Alejandro Granado    

    It is good to see that there is still VA personnel who like to provide medical support to combat veterans. To the contrary, there is also still certain VA staff members and DFAS personnel who enjoy having a psychological impact on disabled veterans. Certain VA personnel here at the Mission Valley VA in San Diego, California has agreed with DFAS personnel that I have a VA waiver so I am not entitled to receive both checks, VA disability and my retirement. Even though I have a letter from the Department of the Army when I applied for combat related special compensation which my application was denied precisely for that reason, I DO NOT have a VA waiver! Yet, this was not enough because DFAS decided to take it a step further. They claimed that I have an overpayment which has led to a debt. I was retired under Army Regulation 635-40 which states if the “unfit conditions” are “permanent and stable” as stated on DA-form 199 then the Physical Evaluation Board should award the soldier 80% but I was only awarded 60% so obviously there is NO DEBT! This nonsense has continued to this present day since June 1, 2015 so now you have an honorably discharged veteran who cannot apply and receive: 1) 9/11 G.I. Bill 2) Vocational Rehab due to my Spinal Cord injury 3) Small business or VA home loan 4) any other benefits or services that are provided to honorably discharged veterans. “I would like to wish everyone a Happy but Safe Holiday Season” ~~~Dr. Donna I will probably see ya next year because you have no idea how much of an “psychological impact” this has had on me.~~~!!!

  2. Evelyn Duncan    

    I feel your pain. But through experience, I’ve found that all VA medical centers are not the same. There seems to be a whole different outlook on mental illness in the southern states. I had to leave my state of residence in order to get some desperately needed help for my mental health issues. I was shoved more medications Everytime I made a complaint. Although I couldn’t afford to travel, I was desperate and I got the help I needed. However my trust issues and social anxiety are considerably worse after constant confrontations about medications and treatment. If. You can’t trust your doctor who can you trust.

  3. Russell Abel    

    I’m exactly one of the veterans described in this writers article. I have PTS, anxiety, depression sleep disorder and chronic pain My newest head shrinker one my first visit complained about being under staffed and ” good luck trying to get in to see me ” and I don’t believe even once did she look me in the face while dealing with me. Also told me me ” well I’m not sure what to do you have tried everything ” and then put me back onto a medication that I’ve already tried. Then podiatry after 6 months off no pain relief order foot splint after not receiving them after a month. I sent a message in my healthy vet app about my concern and they spent more time giving directions on how to track down their errors. After contacting the patient advocate and was told he would look into the matter it’s been two months now. I had asked and explained to the patient advocate that this was unexceptionable care and who a women from church that’s on WELLFAIR have a similar condition but not any were as severe as mine and all the care and aide she has received in just under a two month period. I asked about a possible referral to a outside doctor or any way of some relief and I still suffer every day with my service connected disabilities at 70%. And they get mad over missed appointments and I can lose my disability for not going to these doctors at Wade Park Cleveland Ohio. I already have issues with leaving my home. I don’t need to leave and be even more stressed over poor treatment, lack of caring for a veteran, degrading statements and to be told this will help. The side affects of the meds are not worth going though. We’re is the quality of life with a service connected disability. This is why we have 22 know a day.

  4. Cecil Hamilton    

    You’re right Joe- it’s very bold of you to come forward! I’m a bit surprised the VA lets your comments slip through. They blocked mine a few years back when I was trying to help my son navigate the VA system in Palo Alto. Some of the folks there are good and really go the distance, but then as you indicate you got the selfish ones pulling people off the ladder a head of them, the big shot liars and know it alls, that wouldn’t know the sound of a round going by from a hummingbird -but there going to tell you your problem! They have a long way to go to really understanding PTSD, Combat stress, depression and the “Demons”! Hang in their buddy I am very bitter myself with some of the VA Care that is extremely inadequate, Head Up-Look to the Future!

    1. Gary Hicks    

      Veterans always have a voice here on VAntage Point. Every once in a while, a comment is accidentally caught by our spam filters and deleted, but that is a rare occurrence. If you do not see your comment posted by the next business day, please let us know and we’ll search for it.

  5. Joey Lane Patterson    

    It looks wonderful on paper and I hope and pray that what you are saying is true and MANY Veterans lives are being changed. Unfortunately in the State of North Carolina Veterans are required to see a certain physician for primary care and even though many, many horror stories are being told because of the Shameless treatment that is received at the hands of doctors and patients health are declining due to in my own case horrible treatment.If a Veteran receives adverse treatment he or she should have the right as such in a civilian setting.to request another physician that he or she may see to regain his or her confidence in the provider. After all isn’t it about Veterans?? I do believe that certain outpatient clinics are falling thru the cracks of the VA SYSTEM.When a 100% Service Connected Disabled Veteran is so afraid of his or her Physican that they seek Care out in town and pays OUT OF POCKET for not only Primary Care like Colds,tests,even Bloodwork but also for Phyciatric needs that are crucial for mental clarity and well being. Needless to say Phychatrist are not cheap and out of pocket exspenses can get so high that if a Veteran needs Care on a day to day basis or is in crisis mode he or she spends over half of their disability payment very quickly. Something has to be done some Vets get good care that’s wonderful!! but for the rest we are stuck in a bueocracy that we have no control over. If you can imagine a Vet with Major depression disorder, Panic disorder,Anxiety disorder and PTSD the cruel and needless inhumane treatment can compound these conditions significantly and results in the Veteran doing things he or she on the other hand could have been prevented. It’s a daily struggle for some of us and no amount of disability payment can ever be enough to take the place of our livelihood.The pain and suffering that some of us endure is hid underneath piles of paper work AND countless doctors that are just on the payroll for one reason and ONE reason alone self preservation…….

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