U.S. Veterans Long Wait for Mental Health Care at VA
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a 14-day window in which they want to see patients for their first mental health counseling appointment when veterans first request for help; however, a recent article in USA Today revealed that veterans with disabilities and veterans attempting to get mental health care are waiting more than 14 days in about a third of VA hospitals.
According to the VA, no more than 5% of all the VA’s patients wait “too long to begin therapy with psychiatrists or psychologists.” The VA’s numbers show them meeting their 14 day goal at least 95% of the time. Conversely, the USA Today calculations show the VA only meeting their goal 68% of the time based on a survey that was taken in August by VA clinicians.
According to the survey, patients wait between 3-6 weeks for their first mental health appointment. Waiting that long for help is detrimental to everyone involved, but particularly for those veterans in critical need of help, and especially given the recent upward trend in military suicides.
The measurement of time starts when the veteran first asks for help and ends on the first day of therapy. The VA has almost doubled the amount of staff members they employ in their mental health care divisions and, despite the differing reports about how long patients wait, the VA was given high ranks for the care it provided patients once therapy started.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability representative from Disability Help Group is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-(800)-800-3332.