Accessible Mental Health Care for Veterans
This story may be edited for strong language. This story belongs to the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Matthew Patton Foundation.
It is difficult to find mental health care when you are on the road, but doing face-to-face evaluations prior to telephone visits is the standard of care. MPF had to find qualified mental health professionals, meaning they understood Veterans, who would be amenable to eventually conducting sessions over the phone. MPF found 1.877.WAR.VETS also found at http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/media/Call-Center-PSA.asp and Vet Centers found at http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/
1-877-WAR-VETS (1.877.927.8387) is an around the clock confidential call center where combat Veterans and their families can call to talk about their military experience or any other issue they are facing in their readjustment to civilian life. The staff is comprised of combat Veterans from several eras as well as family members of combat Veterans. The service is free for combat Veterans and their families so they may find resources they need. These Veterans are not therapists; however, they certainly understand Veterans experiences and can help ease Veterans back into the mental health care system. Why? Because WAR VETS is associated with and advocates for Vet Centers, which are community outreach centers established by Congress to provide more mental health services for Veterans. They are not part of the VA “system” per se, but instead Vet Centers are community based and part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal of the Vet Center program is to provide a broad range of counseling, outreach, and referral services to eligible veterans in order to help them make a satisfying post-war readjustment to civilian life. All services are free of cost and are strictly confidential.
On April 1, 2003 the Secretary of Veterans Affairs extended eligibility for Vet Center services to veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and on June 25, 2003 Vet Center eligibility was extended to veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and subsequent operations within the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The family members of all veterans listed above are eligible for Vet Center services as well. On August 5, 2003 VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi authorized Vet Centers to furnish bereavement counseling services to surviving parents, spouses, children and siblings of service members who die of any cause while on active duty, to include federally activated Reserve and National Guard personnel.
This Veteran reported back that after a few face-to-face sessions, he would indeed be allowed sessions via telephone, so this Veteran now receives mental health care no matter where his travels take him.