VA to hire 1,900 to meet mental health demands

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VA to hire 1,900 to meet mental health demands

Dayton Daily News— The Department of Veteran Affairs is adding 1,900 psychologists, nurses and social workers, an acknowledgement that more mental health help is needed as troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The number of staff members the Dayton VA Medical Center will hire hasn’t yet been determined, according to the agency.

Veterans and congressional leaders said the move was necessary because some of those returning home from combat face issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Nationwide, 1,600 clinical and 300 clerical workers will be hired.

The Dayton VA provided mental health services to 29,356 veterans in the Miami Valley in its most recent annual count. Nationwide, the VA treated 1.3 million people with mental health needs, a 37 percent hike since 2007. At the same time, the number of the federal agency’s mental health workers grew by 41 percent.

“My feeling is this is a move in the right step because mental health injuries, mental health problems is kind of like the unseen wound,” said Dan Faulkner, senior vice commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 3 in Ohio and an Air Force veteran. “They don’t always show up immediately. They can show up years later.”

The Dayton VA has 209 clinical mental health professionals and 18 clerical staff today, and has added 53 staff members since 2006. The medical center is looking to fill a psychiatrist position, according to the agency.

Nationwide, the VA has 20,590 mental health employees.

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