Today on PTSD Awareness Day, during the month of June and all year long, the mental health professionals at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are providing healing and hope to Veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although data varies, VA and other studies of those who served in major conflicts — from Vietnam to Operation Enduring Freedom — estimate that between 11% and 30% of Veterans experience PTSD now or will experience it during their lifetime.
PTSD Awareness observations highlight that PTSD treatment works for Veterans with access to it, and that they have options for care from VA’s many psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and social workers.
In fact, VA recently announced that it exceeded its goal of hiring more than 1,000 mental health workers, and has filled nearly 4,000 mental health positions nationwide since 2017.
“VA committed to improve access to mental health care in June 2017 as part of its top clinical priority to prevent Veteran suicide,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a June 14 news release. “As outlined in the MISSION Act, VA will continue to recruit and retain the best health care providers to meet patient demand and provide quick access to mental health care. Building a clinical trainee pipeline of qualified health care professionals is crucial to future VA recruitment and sustainment efforts.”
With these many mental health career professionals now hired — and new recruits coming on board regularly — nearly 120,000 more Veterans in rural and urban areas have greater access to high-quality mental health services. These include trauma-focused psychotherapy, cognitive processing therapy, eye movement desensitization, reprocessing and medication. Veterans are increasingly able to access mental health care remotely through VA’s telehealth and connected care services.
VA mental health workers and Veterans also benefit from the knowledge gathered and shared by the VA National Center for PTSD, the world’s leading research and educational center of excellence on PTSD and traumatic stress. The center uses its expertise in research and education to promote better understanding, diagnosis and treatment of PTSD.
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Mental health professionals who choose a career with VA also receive rewards, benefits and perks, including market, performance and incentive pay based on education and length of practice. Mental health professionals hired under Title 38 get 49 days paid time off, and free liability protection. Benefits also include access to the Federal Employees Retirement System and premium-paid health insurance.
See if a VA career in mental health care is the right choice for you.
If you are a Veteran in crisis or are concerned about one, connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with VA. Many of them are Veterans themselves. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or click www.veteranscrisisline.net to chat or text.