Past Releases: Veterans Mental Health Issues
Contact: Communications@thenationalcouncil.org or 301.984.6200, ext. 228 to arrange for interviews with
- Experts in veterans’ mental health
- Community-based mental health providers who are treating veterans
- Veterans and their family members who are receiving services from community providers
Washington D.C. (June 25, 2007) — A June 2007 report from the Department of Defense Mental Health Task Force highlights the growing psychological problems that troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing. The report points out that nearly 50 percent of National Guard members and reservists report symptoms of mental disorders — and many return to homes in rural communities, from where they find it difficult to access military-provided clinical care and support groups.
“As a veteran, I am pained by daily reports of increasing mental illnesses that our troops face and of how hard it is for them to get help,” says Jeannie Campbell, executive vice president of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “This is a new kind of war, with citizen soldiers being called to multiple deployments. And help for their serious mental health issues lies outside our overloaded military system.”
Across our nation, there are more than 2,000 community-based mental health organizations, ready and qualified to provide quality psychological care to our veterans close to their homes.
In many states, community mental health providers are already serving veterans and their families. The Western Montana Mental Health Center, under contract with its local Veterans Administration, provided mental health services to approximately 715 veterans between January and December 2006. Before the program, veterans waited 6-8 months for outpatient mental health services. The turnaround time now is 10 days or less.
On May 23, Senators Domenici and Obama introduced the Veterans’ Mental Health Outreach and Access Act of 2007, which calls upon the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to contract with individual community mental health centers to provide needed services to Iraq war veterans remote from VA mental health centers.
Community providers’ 40-year track record of providing critical mental health services to nearly six million Americans annually, combined with their more comprehensive geographic coverage and deep roots in our communities, ideally equips them to answer the growing need to treat our troops for PTSD and other disabling mental disorders.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) association representing 1,300 mental health and addictions treatment and rehabilitation organizations that serve nearly six million adults, children, and families in communities across America.