Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) introduced a resolution urging the Department of Veterans Affairs to prioritize the hiring of mental health professionals to better serve our nation's veterans. In recent years, the rate of mental health diagnoses among active duty military and veterans has dramatically increased. This measure would help address the troubling shortage of mental health professionals working for the VA to provide the care our veterans need. (Click here to view the text of the resolution).
"We have a duty to provide the brave men and women who served our country with the best care possible. We are falling short of this responsibility – particularly when it comes to mental health care," said Crist. "Too many servicemembers are returning home with PTSD and other service-related mental health concerns. And too few mental health professionals are there to help them. The VA must take immediate action to correct this wrong, better treating the invisible wounds of our veterans."
The VA Office of Inspector General identified mental health professionals among the highest vacancies.
Between 2001 and 2011, a total of 936,283 servicemembers and veterans were diagnosed with at least one mental disorder, with nearly 49 percent being diagnosed with more than one mental disorder.
The Veterans Crisis Line has answered almost two million calls since 2007; 250,000 chats since chat service was added in 2009; and 44,000 texts since text-messaging service was added in 2011.