A study of VA mental health services utilization reports 1.6 million American men and women have served or are serving currently in the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, or surrounding areas. Multiple studies have reported a high prevalence of emerging mental health disorders in this population ranging from 18.5% to 42.7% in OEF and OIF service members and veterans. These mental health issues include, but are not limited to:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Substance Use Disorders
- Military Sexual Trauma
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Untreated mental health issues can lead to other concerns such as:
- Domestic violence,
- Unemployment, underemployment,
- Criminal justice involvement,
- Risk of suicide, and
- Serious medical conditions.
A 2017 Department of Defense report (VetPop20016) estimates 1,681,730 veterans reside in the state of California. Approximately 40% of these veterans were eligible and received their medical and psychiatric care from the Department of Veterans Affairs providers at VA Medical Centers, outpatient clinics and Vet Centers.
Veterans who are not eligible for VA Healthcare benefits (including the slightly over 500,000 former service members with Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges) must seek care from local community clinics and other providers. Veterans with OTH discharges can now present at any Veterans Health Administration facility with an emergent mental health need and be seen for up to 90 days.
Of primary concern is the prevalence of suicide in this population. The VA National Suicide Data Report, 2005-2015 (Updated June 2018) found in 2015 an average of 20.6 active duty Service members, non-activated Guardsmen or Reservists, and other Veterans died by suicide each day. It is known that the rate of death by suicide among Veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a significantly greater rate than that among Veterans who do use VA care and the VA is offering this emergent care to help combat the rise in Veteran suicide. In order to cut down on wait times for appointments, and increase accessibility to care for those veterans who live in rural areas and cannot easily access VA care, the VA has instituted the “Veterans Choice Program” (VCP). The VCP can receive care through a community provider paid for by the VA once they have received prior authorization for care to see one of these Choice network providers.
CAVSA IS COMMITTED TO ENSURING THAT ALL VETERANS GAIN ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH CARE BY SUPPORTING MEMBER AGENCIES IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL MISSIONS TO SERVE THE NEEDS OF CALIFORNIA’S VETERAN POPULATION.
We help nearly 10,000 veterans access counseling and mental health services