NVC Newsletter

The Veterans Healthcare Administration: Anomaly or Albatross? - Part 4

by Weldon Lee, NVC VA Representative
August 2016, Volume 66, Issue 7

[NOTE:  URL Reference: va.gov  For those with no access to a computer, I am listing items in detail.]

We will cover and condense, as much as possible, the following components into a 4-part segment: Crisis Prevention and Mental Health in Part 4, the VA website MyHealtheVet in Part 5, PTSD and Prescription Refills in Part 6, and Public Health in Part 7.  Also, you will be referred to the website that listed the departments/clinics that are Administrative or Clinical under the heading of “Organizations” on the VHA website.

Veterans Crisis Prevention Line   //www.veteranscrisisline.net/

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text.  Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

The Veterans Crisis Line responders are specially trained and experienced in helping Veterans of all ages and circumstances. Some of the responders are Veterans themselves and understand what Veterans and their families and friends have been experiencing.

Since 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 2.2 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis over 58,000 times. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with responders.

Also in 2011, the National Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline was renamed the Veterans Crisis Line.  The purpose was for people, who knew Veterans that needed help, to reach out for support when issues reach a crisis point — and well before a Veteran is at risk of suicide.  To ensure all Veterans and their loved ones are aware of the Veterans Crisis Line, VA is coordinating with communities and partners nationwide to let Veterans and their loved ones know that support is available whenever, if ever, they need it.

Mental Health www.mentalhealth.va.gov/mentalhealthrecovery.asp

Mental health information and resources for Veterans and their families can be found in   The Guide to VA Mental Health Services for Veterans and FamiliesIt is intended for Veterans, Veteran family members, Veterans Service Organization members, or members of other groups interested in VA mental health care.  You can use this handbook to learn what mental health services your local or regional VA health care facility has pledged to provide to Veterans.

The following information has been extracted from the guide and is intended to serve as a brief overview. Please see the Guide for more detailed information.

Focus on Recovery - Recovery empowers the Veteran to take charge of his/her treatment and live a full and meaningful life by focusing on the individual’s strengths and gives respect, honor, and hope to our nation’s heroes and their families.

Coordinated Care for the Whole Person - VA health care providers coordinate with each other to provide safe and effective treatment for the whole person.  Having a healthy body, satisfying work, and supportive family and friends, along with getting appropriate nutrition and exercising regularly, are just as important to mental health as to physical health.

Mental Health Treatment in Primary Care - Primary Care clinics use Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACTs) to provide the Veteran’s healthcare and includes mental health experts.

Mental Health Treatment Coordinator - Veterans who receive specialty mental health care have a Mental Health Treatment Coordinator (MHTC) whose job is to understand the overall mental health goals of the Veteran.

24 Hour Service - Emergency mental health care is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at VA medical centers.  If your VA does not have a 24-hour emergency room, it must provide these services through a local, non-VA hospital.  Telephone evaluations at VA medical centers and the national crisis hotline are also available 24/7.

Care that is Sensitive to Gender & Cultural Issues - VA health care providers receive training about military culture, gender differences, and ethnic issues in order to better understand each Veteran.

Care Close to Home - VA is moving closer to where Veterans live by adding more rural and mobile clinics and working with other health care providers in the community.

Evidence-Based Treatment - Evidence-based treatments are treatments that research has proven are effective for particular problems. Mental health providers receive training on a wide variety of proven treatments and must offer evidence-based treatments to Veterans.

Family & Couple Services - Sometimes, as part of a Veteran’s treatment, some members of the Veteran’s immediate family or the Veteran’s legal guardian may be included and receive services, such as family therapy, marriage counseling, grief counseling, etc.

Veteran Service Organizations who can also assist Veterans and their families in finding help from the VA:

American Veterans (AMVETS)                        http://www.amvets.org/

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)                https://www.dav.org/

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)     http://iava.org/

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)             http://www.pva.org/

Student Veterans of America (SVA)                http://studentveterans.org/

The American Legion                                      http://www.legion.org/

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)              http://www.vva.org/


Next in Part 5, we will cover the very comprehensive VA website, MyHealtheVet.  This informative website answers many of the routine questions that many Veterans who utilize the VA Healthcare system have.

God bless America and the American Legion and may we continue to pray to keep our men and women in uniform safe and out of harms way!

Weldon Lee, Certified Service Officer
VA Representative