Friday, April 20, 2012

Vietnam Veterans of America Applauds VA Decision To Hire More Mental Health Professionals


April 20, 2012

No. 12-08
Contact: Mokie Porter

Vietnam Veterans of America Applauds VA Decision To Hire More Mental Health Professionals

(Washington, D.C.) “We salute VA Secretary Shinseki for taking action to hire 1,600 new mental health clinicians to move toward better meeting the needs of veterans of every generation,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, in response to the announcement that he has ordered the Department of Veterans Affairs to immediately hire an additional 1,600 mental-health professionals and 300 administrative support staff at VA Medical Centers around the country.

“It is very important that the Secretary ensure these clinicians are properly oriented to the needs of veterans, particularly those with combat-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma,” Rowan said. “The ongoing medical education of the VA staff is critical to their effectiveness in the treatment and care for veterans suffering from neuropsychiatric wounds.

“The VA must ensure that all clinicians are trained in the best evidence-based medicine for accurate diagnosis and assessment of PTSD, as recommended by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science in a series of studies commissioned in 2006 and 2007 by the VA. It does no good to move toward a proper a level of staffing if the VA does not follow the best recommended medical procedures for accurate diagnoses and assessments of PTSD,” noted Rowan. (To read the IOM studies, go to: .

When asked over the last six years why the VA is not doing the proper psychological testing to accurately diagnose PTSD, Veterans Health Administration officials at VA headquarters responded that it is “too expensive.” Local clinicians at VA medical centers have responded to the same question by noting that they do not have enough staff to do the proper testing. VVA contends that this failure is jeopardizing the recovery of veterans. Effective treatment is dependent upon an accurate and complete diagnosis.

“If we do not do the proper diagnosis of PTSD because it is ‘too expensive,’ what’s next as a cost-saving measure?” Rowan asked. “It can be argued that, without an accurate diagnosis and assessment, it is hit-or-miss as to whether the mental-health clinicians are then applying the proper treatment modalities for PTSD for the individual veteran. One size does not fit all.”

Said Rowan, “VVA will continue to work with Secretary Shinseki, with the VA’s mental health leadership, and with our allies in Congress to ensure that veterans receive the best available treatment for PTSD and MST.”

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