BISHOP APPLAUDS VA DECISION TO INCREASE MENTAL HEALTH STAFF BY 1,900
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), the Ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recent announcement that the department would add approximately 1,600 mental health clinicians – to include nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers as well as nearly 300 support staff to its existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff as part of an ongoing review of mental health operations:
“I would like to commend the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, and his staff for their commitment to hire an additional 1,900 health care staffers to serve in our nation’s VA facilities,” said Congressman Bishop. “As we continue to draw down our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, more of our returning service members will need access to quality mental health services. The VA’s decision to bring on more mental health clinicians is a good step towards ensuring that the federal government better anticipates and responds to the needs of those brave veterans who depend on the VA for vital health care services.”
VA will allocate funds from its current budget to all 22 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) across the country this month to immediately begin the recruitment of additional health care personnel. Last year, VA provided specialty mental health services to 1.3 million veterans. Since 2009, VA has increased its mental health care budget by 39 percent. Over the last five years, VA has seen a 35 percent increase in mental health patients, and a 41 percent increase in mental health staff.