Many veterans have to wait too long to get the help they need for their mental health at Department of Veterans Affairs health facilities.
The VA has done a poor job of providing veterans with timely mental health care or giving them the option to seek community care. In a time when veteran suicides are shockingly high, that isn’t acceptable.
The suicide epidemic hit close to home for North Carolina Concerned Veterans for America Strategic Director Jose Ramos , who recently lost his friend of 17 years to suicide. Ramos’ friend served in the United States Army for 23 years and joined the police force after retirement.
Ramos laid out what veterans are faced with when they return to civilian life in the Fayetteville Observer.
Suicide is a tragic reality in the veteran community. Decades of continuous war, multiple deployments, difficulty transitioning out of service, and lack of easy access to resources all add up to a crisis.
On average, nearly 17 veterans take their lives each day. Four times more post-9/11 war veterans have died by suicide than were killed in war operations.
Each of those veterans had a family, friends, and battle buddies who mourn their loss. The call I received that I had lost my friend was not the first I’ve gotten, but I’m determined it will be my last.
At the Fayetteville, North Carolina VA health facility near Fort Liberty, wait times to receive mental health services put veterans at a major disadvantage to get care they need and deserve.
As of PTSD Awareness Day on June 27, the wait time for a new patient to receive mental health care at the Fayetteville VA was 106 days. The wait for substance use disorder care was 44 days. For PTSD-specific care, veterans would need to visit the Cumberland County VA where there are currently no new appointments.
The call for VA health care reform gets louder and louder with every unfortunate circumstance that happens. The VA hears the pleas for change but chooses to do nothing about them. This is why giving veterans the power of choice in their health care matters.
Read the rest of Jose Ramos’ piece in the Fayetteville Observer.
If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD or mental health issues, the Veterans Crisis Line is available by dialing 988 (then press 1) or texting 838255. The Vet Center is also available and staffed by combat veterans and military families ready to talk about military experiences and any other issues veterans are facing. That number is 877-WAR-VETS (927-8387).