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.


 
 

 

Air Force Fitness Management System slated for upgrade

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Active-duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard officers and enlisted members who want to maintain copies of their pre-July 2010 fitness records need to access the Air Force Fitness Management System (AFFMS) and save or print their records by Dec. 30, Air Force Personnel Center officials said Dec....
 
 

Gen. Hyten: Future of AF is air, space, cyberspace integration

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The commander of Air Force Space Command talked about the fundamental relationship between space operations and everyday life – not only for the military, but for the American people – during a breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club, Dec. 5. Gen. John E. Hyten, the AFSPC commander, explained the complexities of global...
 
 

Air Force looks at innovative acquisition processes

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — With new technologies rapidly coming to the forefront of the global stage, remaining the world’s greatest air force comes at an escalating cost, making responsible spending and cost-cutting initiatives high priorities for Air Force leadership. The Air Force Office of Acquisitions is partnering with industry to realize some of these initiatives and...
 

 

Officials Highlight Health, Wellness Resources for Military Families

WASHINGTON – As efforts continue to strengthen service members and their families, Pentagon officials held a Bloggers Roundtable to highlight the myriad resources available to tackle the unique military and transitional challenges those who serve may face. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Freitas Williams, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj....
 
 

AF closes FY14 force management programs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Airmen who met the service’s reduction in force board were notified of the board’s results Nov. 19, bringing the fiscal year 2014 force management programs to an end. The RIF board selected 354 captains and majors across the Air Force for non-retention, half of the number the service previously projected it would...
 
 

AF expands digital library content for Airmen

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Airmen at 19 Air Force installations around the world will soon have access to a new 200-title audiobook and eBook digital library, Air Force officials said. The 19 participating installations will help test digital content distribution using the new Air Force eReader AERO; a single portable device developed...
 




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