In response to the growing numbers of veterans seeking help for psychological problems, the Veteran's Administration (VA) has instituted a series of evidenced based VA's Mental Health Recovery Programs to help meet this demand. These psychological services and resources are provided by VA Medical Centers (VAMC) around the country and are available to eligible Veterans who meet criteria for these programs http://www.va.gov/opa/issues/mental_health.asp.
The Guide to VA Mental Health Services for Veterans and Families (also available in Spanish) is intended for use by Veterans, Veteran family members, members of Veterans Services Organizations, or members of other groups interested in VA mental health care. The following information is intended to serve as a brief overview:
Focus on Recovery emphasizes the individual’s strengths and gives respect, honor, and hope to our nation’s heroes and their families;
Coordinated Care for the Whole Person with a FOCUS ON WELLNESS and the goal of providing safe and effective treatment for the whole person from head to toe .....(and with continued encouragement and focus on RESILIENCE - even "Dancing with the Stars!!!);"
Family & Couple Services, whereby members of the Veteran’s immediate family or the Veteran’s legal guardian may be included and receive services, such as family therapy, marriage counseling, grief counseling, etc;
Mental Health Treatment in the Primary Care setting; providing a Mental Health Treatment Coordinator whose job is to understand the overall mental health goals of the Veteran;
Around-the-Clock Service offering Emergency mental health care is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at VA medical centers. If your local VA does not have a 24-hour emergency room, it must provide these services through a local, non-VA hospital;
Sensitivity to Gender & Cultural Issues including military culture, gender differences, and ethnic issues in order to better understand each Veteran;
Care Close to Home by adding more rural and mobile clinics and working with other health care providers in the community;
Evidence-Based Treatment - Evidence-based treatments which are therapeutic interventions with a focus on wellness that research has proven are effective for particular problems http://www.va.gov/opa/issues/mental_health.asp. The following is also a guide to finding services within the United States Department of Veteran Affairs http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/docs/Guide_to_VA_Mental_Health_Srvcs_FINAL12-20-10.pdf.
In addition to treatment for PTSD and a host of other mental health problems, Military Sexual Trauma (MST) counseling is also being provided by the VA. Any veteran who was sexually traumatized while serving in the military is eligible to receive counseling regardless of gender or era of service.
Treatment and services for MST: may include individual or group counseling, marital and family counseling, referral for benefits assistance, liaison with community agencies or substance abuse information and referral to help you deal with the emotions of military sexual trauma and regain confidence in your everyday life.
Medical services relating to MST are available at your local VA Medical Center and can be accessed by contacting the Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator (or Women Veterans Program Manager). Assessment and referral for sexual trauma counseling are available in all Vet Centers. On site counseling is available at selected Vet Centers across the country. Furthermore, my Sex Therapy Practice is well-versed in the clinical and psychological issues related to MST and can assist you in obtaining evidenced-based treatment.
Medical Services for Women in the Primary Care setting; providing a health care with a Treatment Coordinator whose job is to understand the overall medical and mental health goals of the female Veteran;
If you are a veteran and have a mental health problem but have never been seen in a VA hospital or clinic, you can:
Call VA general information hotline at 1-800-827-1000 FREE or visit VA’s website at www.va.gov for information. You will be able to find the address and phone number of a VA hospital or clinic near you
Begin the process of finding mental health care through a VA Readjustment Counseling Service Veterans Center (Vet Center).
Veterans who are homeless can get help finding mental health care at a Veterans drop-in center, or by contacting the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 1-877-424-3838 FREE, or by visiting the VA’s Homeless Veterans Website at www.va.gov/homeless.
Furthermore, if you are already using VA medical services, ask your primary care provider to arrange for you to see a VA mental health provider. If you chose to go outside of the VA system, the government has implemented a plan where you can see a provider of your choice and have the VA pay for the services.
As a medically disabled service connected female veteran of the United States Air Force (my photo above), I understand, first hand, the vicissitudes of seeking health care within the VA. I served from 1978-1982 and was discharged during a time when there were virtually no female hospital beds on the ward; they had to shuffle male patients around to provide a private - female only - room. Also, there were extremely LIMITED SERVICES for female veterans in the VA and long wait times for outpatient appointments.
While things are not perfect, times have changed considerably and finding help for medical services and mental health problems is a phone call away. Various resources have been listed above. However, you can also call my office to schedule an appointment at 954-779-2855. Since my solo practice is not affiliated with the DOD or the VA and I do not accept insurance of any kind, please make sure that you have already arranged for payments from the VA.
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