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July 04. 2013 10:24PM

VAMC hires 15 new mental health professionals

MANCHESTER — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it has met the goal to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals outlined in President Obama’s Aug. 31, 2012, executive order to help veterans’ access to mental health service.

The Manchester VA Medical Center has hired 15 new mental health professionals toward that goal.

“I am proud of the hard work our staff has completed to bring these new staff members on board,” said Susan A. MacKenzie, acting medical center director. “We are not slowing our efforts, however, and will continue to actively recruit for any vacant mental health positions for the future so veterans will get the care they need. Not only have we hired new mental health professionals but the Manchester VAMC has specialty areas related to Mental Health, such as Veterans Justice Outreach, Homeless Veterans Outreach, Military Sexual Trauma, Women’s Wellness Group, just to name a few.”

Additionally, the VA has hired 2,005 mental health clinical providers to fill existing vacancies.

“Meeting this hiring milestone significantly enhances our ability to improve access to care for those veterans seeking mental health services and demonstrates our continued commitment to the health and well-being of the men and women who have served the nation,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Meeting this goal is an important achievement, but we recognize that we must continue to increase access to the quality mental health care Veterans have earned and deserve.”

The VA provides comprehensive mental health services across the country.

In 2012, more than 1.3 million veterans received specialized mental health care from the VA. This number has risen each year from 927,052 in 2006.

In addition to hiring more mental health professionals, the VA is expanding the use of technology to serve veterans in rural or underserved areas. The VA expects to increase the number of veterans receiving care from tele-mental health services in fiscal year 2013, and has increased the number of vet centers, which provide readjustment counseling and referral services, from 233 in 2008 to 300 in 2012.

In November, 2011, the VA launched a national public awareness campaign called Make the Connection, which is aimed at reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and informing veterans, their families, friends, and members of their communities about VA resources.

More information on Make the Connection can be found at www.maketheconnection.net.

Mental health professionals interested in seeking employment with the Department of Veterans Affairs can obtain information at www.vacareers.va.gov.


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