Obama Executive Actions Aim to Improve Veterans’ Mental Health Care



Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) October 13, 2014 – President Barack Obama recently announced 19 new steps to expand veterans’ access to mental health care.

The expansion follows a serious government scandal uncovered earlier this year. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was caught hiding lengthy delays in health care access for veterans, including months-long waits for appointments. Eric Shinseki resigned as head of VA as a result. Last month, Obama signed a $16.3 billion bill to improve veterans’ access to medical care and other VA issues.

“PTSD and suicide are monumental problems affecting the veteran population,” said Andrew Hook, a Virginia veterans benefits attorney. “Treating veterans’ mental health is just as essential as providing other forms of health care.”

Obama said that the bill will improve availability of mental health care for veterans transitioning into civilian life. In addition, its measures will extend research into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide.

PTSD manifests through symptoms like flashbacks and anxiety, and it currently affects at least 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. About half of all veterans with PTSD do not seek treatment. People with PTSD face an increased risk of depression, suicide and substance abuse problems.

Obama’s 19 executive actions should improve veterans’ access to mental health care. The measures address a number of care issues, including the transition from VA to civilian care and an expanded health peer support network for veterans. Measures to reduce suicide risk are also planned, including programs to collect unwanted medications and to teach firearm safety.