Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, held a hearing addressing the lack of sufficient mental health care for returning veterans. According to a report released by the inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this week, it often takes far longer than the VA’s stated goal period of 14 days for first-time patients to receive a comprehensive mental health evaluation. Last year, more than half of returning vets had to wait an average of seven weeks for an evaluation.
“Getting our veterans timely mental health care can quite frankly often be the difference between life and death,” Sen. Murray said in a statement.
In her opening statement, Sen. Murray addressed insufficient staffing and space available for veterans’ mental health care, and sought answers to ensure that military men and women receive the crucial treatment they need to keep them safe from harm following their service.
Women’s Health’s special report in the May issue focuses on the mental health struggles among female veterans. As Julia Savacool reports in “Home Safe But Not Sound,” suicide rates are on the rise among women in the military after they return home from war, when they’re supposedly out of harm’s way. We investigate the pressures facing women upon their return, note the disturbing lack of female-specific mental health services available to help them, and seek to discover how we can protect them.