USA Today (4/5, Zoroya) reports, “As thousands of additional veterans seek mental health care every month, the Department of Veterans Affairs is short of psychiatrists, with 20% vacancy rates in much of the country served by VA hospitals, according to department data.” What’s more, “the vacancies occur at a time when the number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder is increasing by about 10,000 every three months, what experts say is the cumulative effect of a decade of war, VA data show.” According to internal data, “the VA has about a 20% shortfall in psychiatrists at hospitals throughout the Northwest, Deep South, and Southern California,” particularly in rural areas with smaller populations.
Sen. Murray Raises Question Whether Cost Factors Into PTSD Diagnosis Decision. In continuing coverage, the AP (4/5) reports that US Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) “is questioning military and Veterans’ Affairs officials over concerns that cost has been a factor in reversing diagnoses of soldiers found to suffer” from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Murray’s “questioning came Wednesday at a Tacoma field hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which she chairs.” While the AP did not mention what VA officials had to say in response to the questioning, it did report that “military officials pointed out that it is not US policy to deny soldiers and veterans necessary medical care or benefits for financial reasons.” However, some soldiers who have PTSD challenged that claim at Wednesday’s hearing.
— “VA sees shortfall of mental health specialists,”Gregg Zoroya, USA Today, April 5, 2012.