Thursday, April 26, 2012

APA Urges Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to Take Further Steps

APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr., M.D., addressed the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (VA) earlier this week, citing concerns that veterans and their families continue to experience delays in accessing quality mental health and substance abuse care in the VA system. Scully, himself a Navy veteran and former head of the Denver VA, said that APA applauds the recent announcement by the VA to hire an additional 1,900 psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers to better serve veterans.

In his letter, Scully emphasized that addressing workload issues and VA payscale inequities affecting psychiatrists would help alleviate the department's psychiatrist shortage. Scully also urged the VA to focus its human resources efforts on hiring psychiatrists, as well as engaging community-based psychiatrists, and said that strategies such as engaging rural psychiatrists and using telepsychiatry are crucial to meeting the mental health needs of rural veterans.

The VA is already working on a number of important initiatives to engage community psychiatrists, including training them on military culture. Scully said that APA would welcome a more robust training partnership with the VA.

Read about community-level programs that provide support for returning veterans in Psychiatric News, here.


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