Air Force

September 7, 2012

Obama: Improve Mental Health Access, Care for Military, Vets

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON D.C. — President Barack Obama signed an executive order that provides increased access to mental health services for service members, military families and veterans, Aug. 31.

The order, signed as Obama left Washington for a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas, directs the Defense Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other key federal departments to expand suicide-prevention strategies. In addition, new steps need to be taken in order to meet the demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services, White House officials said.

The president is expected to share details about the new initiative during a private roundtable discussion with soldiers and their families at Fort Bliss and during an address to the troops.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the new provisions underscore the U.S. government’s commitment to strengthening the health of the military force and providing additional support to combat “two unseen wounds” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

The executive order:

  • Strengthens suicide-prevention efforts across the force and in the veteran community
  • Enhances access to mental health care by building partnerships between the Department of Veterans Affairs and community providers
  • Increases the number of VA mental health providers serving veterans and
  • Promotes mental health research and development of more effective ways to prevent, identify and treat PTSD, TBI and other related injuries.

More than two million service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001, serving tours of unprecedented duration and frequency, White House officials noted in announcing the new executive order.

“Long deployments and intense combat conditions require optimal support for the emotional and mental health needs of our service members and their families,” they said.

The executive order builds on efforts already under way within the Defense Department, VA and other federal agencies to ensure veterans and active, Guard and Reserve service members and their families get the support they deserve, officials noted.

In terms of suicide prevention, the executive order directs VA to increase the capacity of its veteran crisis line by 50 percent at year’s end. It also calls on VA to ensure that no veteran who reports being in crisis should have to wait more than 24 hours to be connected to a mental health professional or trained mental health worker.

The VA also will work with the Defense Department to establish a national, 12-month suicide prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services, officials reported.

To ensure veterans have access to these services, the executive order also calls on VA and the Department of Health and Human Services to establish at least 15 pilot sites where VA can partner with local mental health providers. This initiative, officials said, will help ensure services are available in regions where VA has had trouble hiring or placing providers.

The order also directs VA and HHS to develop a plan to increase access to mental health care in rural communities.

In addition, VA will hire 800 peer-to-peer support counselors to help veterans support each other and ensure that their mental health needs are met. That’s on top of VA’s ongoing effort to hire 1,600 new mental health care professionals by June 2013. VA has hired more than 3,500 mental health professionals since 2009 and the new executive order includes recruiting incentives to build on that momentum.

The new order rallies interagency support in confronting mental health and substance abuse support for veterans, service members and their families. It establishes an interagency task force to recommend new strategies, and calls on DOD, VA, DHHS and the Department of Education to devise a national plan to improve PTSD and TBI diagnosis and treatment. A comprehensive study included in that plan will delve into better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat these and other mental health challenges, officials said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Untitled-1

Seven little known facts about Memorial Day

As Americans get ready to observe Memorial Day with travel, family get-togethers and celebrations, let us not forget—it’s not about the BBQ. Memorial Day is observed specifically to remember those who gave the ultimate sacr...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer

Recruits swear in at Military Appreciation Night

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kevin Mitterholzer Lt. Col. Erin Meinders, commander, 362nd Recruiting Squadron, swears in 13 new recruits to the Air Force Reserve, during the Inland Empire 66ers Military Appreciation Night ...
 
 

Deployments, TDYs available for combat-ready reservists

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. — Reservists seeking a deployment or temporary duty outside their Reserve Component Period vulnerability cycle can use the Volunteer Reserve System to search for opportunities. Located online via the Air Reserve Component Network, known as ARCNet, the VRS had 81 “want ads” posted May 12. These listed vacancies ranged from...
 

 
Courtesy photo

Treasure uncovered near March Air Reserve Base

Courtesy photo Defense Visual Information Record Center archivist Pedro Loureiro, sifts through mounds of submitted materials in his office at the Defense Media Activity-Riverside, California, adjacent to March Air Reserve Base...
 
 

163rd Reconnaissance Wing

U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Neil Ballecer Airmen from the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing pose for a group photo at the start of the wing’s first Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPIH) celebration. The event featured cuisine from an array of Asian and Pacific-Island cultures as well as a display of traditional clothing. May...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Megan Crusher

Team March bolsters Nepal earthquake relief efforts

U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Megan Crusher Team March Airmen and members from an elite 57-person team, known as the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 (CA-TF2), prepare equipment to be loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster III a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin