Partnership to Expand Mental Health Services Makes Progress

22 May 2013 | American Forces Press Service

The Defense, Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services departments yesterday reported on the progress they’ve made on initiatives to improve access to mental health services for veterans, service members and their families.

The initiatives are the result of an executive order President Barack Obama issued in August.

"One of the great challenges we face as a nation is how to provide quality, accessible, long-term mental health care for service members, veterans and their families,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said. “Using the combined resources and expertise from across the government, we are advancing services for those who have sacrificed so much for our nation."

The departments have released an interim report outlining their progress, including:

-- Increasing the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line by 50 percent to help ensure that veterans in crisis can readily reach help;

-- Establishing 15 pilot projects in seven states in which VA works with community-based mental health providers to help veterans have timely access to mental health services;

-- VA hiring nearly 1,400 mental health providers and about 250 new peer specialists; and

-- Implementing a national suicide prevention campaign to connect veterans and service members to mental health services.

The departments also are working on additional initiatives called for in the executive order, including development of a national research action plan, officials said.

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