VA to add 1,900 mental health clinicians

April 24, 2012 at 1:32 AM

WASHINGTON, April 24 (UPI) -- The secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said the VA is hiring 1,900 mental health clinicians including nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists.

Secretary Eric Shinseki said the new staff would include 300 support staff added to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff, as part of an ongoing review of mental health operations.

"As the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to anticipate the needs of returning veterans," Shinseki said in a statement. "History shows that the costs of war will continue to grow for a decade or more after the operational missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended. As more veterans return home, we must ensure that all veterans have access to quality mental healthcare."

The VA's ongoing comprehensive review of mental health operations indicated some VA facilities required more mental health staff to serve the growing needs of veterans and the VA is moving quickly to address this top priority, Shinseki said.

Based on this model for team delivery of outpatient mental health services -- plus growth needs for the Veterans Crisis Line and anticipated increase in Compensation and Pension/Integrated Disability Evaluation System exams -- VA projected the need for the additional 1,900 clinical and clerical mental health staff at this time, Shinseki said.

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