Veterans deserve to be honored today for their sacrifice in defending our country and its ideals. Not only individual sacrifice from members in the military, but also the sacrifices made by their family and children.
Veterans also deserve access to quality mental health care. Veterans also deserve not to be discriminated against for acknowledging the emotional scars that combat can leave behind in an individual. So while the Veterans Administration has made great strides in providing better care for veterans in the past few years, it still has a long way to go.
Today, veterans need better access to higher-quality mental health care. In many places in the country, when a veteran went to avail themselves of psychological care at a VA hospital or clinic, they were put on a waiting list. Sometimes that waiting list stretched out to 18 months or more. No American — especially a vet — should have to wait so long for quality psychiatric or psychological care.
It’s not surprising to find that most veterans’ mental health problems are a direct result of their time in the service. It is unconscionable that, as a nation, we would send men and women off to fight our battles, and then leave them high and dry when those same people come home with battle scars that do not readily heal. While time heals many things, it doesn’t seem to do much good for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression that many vets suffer.
We applaud the great strides the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have made in the past few years to fix the chronic problems found at many VA hospitals. But it’s not enough. More must be done to give the VA hospitals, clinics and staff the tools and resources they need to best serve our vets. More mental health professionals must be hired, and waiting lists must be cut down for a target of doing away with them altogether.
A veteran shouldn’t have to wait — ever — to get the needed care they seek out on their own. It’s a tragedy that in 2015, we still have to say something that’s so obvious to any vet who’s made that courageous first step to get help for a mental health concern… Only to be turned away and told to come back in 3, 6 or 18 months’ time.
We urge the U.S. Congress and the VA to work together to ensure the kinds of problems the VA has suffered from over the past 10 years do not resurface when the spotlight is no longer on them.
This Veterans Day, we’re proud to stand with and honor all the men and women who’ve put their lives on the line to protect us. On behalf of all Americans, and the staff and writers here at Psych Central, we thank you.