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VA Press Release re: ER same day access



VA ensures Veterans have same-day access to emergency mental health care

WASHINGTON — As part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) efforts to provide the best mental health care access possible, VA is reminding Veterans that it offers all Veterans same-day access to emergency mental health care at any VA health care facility across the country.

“Providing same-day 24/7 access to mental health crisis intervention and support for Veterans, service members and their families is our top clinical priority,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “It’s important that all Veterans, their family and friends know that help is easily available.”

VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention is the national leader in making high-quality mental health care and suicide prevention resources available to Veterans through a full spectrum of outpatient, inpatient and telemental health services.

Additionally, VA has developed the National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide, which reflects the department’s vision for a coordinated effort to prevent suicide among all service members and Veterans. This strategy maintains VA’s focus on high-risk individuals in health care settings, while also adopting a broad public health approach to suicide prevention.

VA has supported numerous Veterans and has the capacity to assist more. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, 1.7 million Veterans received Veterans Health Administration (VHA) mental health services. These patients received more than 84,000 psychiatric hospital stays, about 41,700 residential stays and more than 21 million outpatient encounters.

Nationally, in the first quarter of FY 2019, 90% of new patients completed an appointment in a mental health clinic within 30 days of scheduling an appointment, and 96.8% of established patients completed a mental health appointment within 30 days of the day they requested. For FY 2018, 48% of initial, in-person Primary Care — Mental Health Integration (PC-MHI) encounters were on the same day as the patient’s PC encounter. During the first quarter of FY 2019, 51% of initial, in-person PC-MHI encounters were on the same day as the patient’s PC encounter.

Veterans in crisis – or those concerned about one – should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255 or chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net.


( I wonder if those 3 suicides in 5 days, at VAMCs spurred this PR.)

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Yes Ms Berta I got this VA Press release yesterday and was going to post it but I deleted it by mistake  glad you posted it.

I did notice MY VA therapist started letting me  knowI can use ER if I need too and no wait they take you right in  

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If this is the real deal, its a good thing.  We had a Veteran at my local VAMC go to the ER IN COMBAT GEAR seeking mental health treatment several years ago.  

The VA asked him, sure, we can give you mental health treatment, what are you doing in October???

The Veteran exited the ER, went to his car, got his rifle and blew his brains out right by the VAMC front door "statue".  

A  few months later, the deceased Vet's ( by suicide) brother reported it was not the fault of the VA.  I wonder how much the VA paid him to say that.  

I have known this is a problem for years.  My VA has offered "walk in" mental health treatment, but only during the hours of 2-4 in the afternoon.  I guess that Vet who committed suicide did not get the memo, that he could only have a crisis for 2 hours each day, and had a crisis one of the other 22 hours in a day.  

More recently, however, if you are suicidal the VA takes you in and puts you in "lockdown" for about 72 hours with a "suicide watch" in a mental health hospital.  

But the only way you could get "crisis" treatment was to tell Va you are suicidal.  

Many people dont want to do that, even if they are suicidal.  Not everyone goes out and tells others, "Im suicidal" before doing the deed.  Many Vets are very quiet, not wanting to talk, and take action without telling a soul.  

The mental health appointments do offer a "suicide risk screening", but, again, we were taught in the military to "suck it up" and not complain, and its hard to unlearn that training.  

I do think there should be some "debreifing" training..to assist Vets "unlearning" some of those attitutedes drilled into our heads.  

Military training really sets us up for (suicide) after service.  You are expected to risk your own life in war time, and sometimes, there is a "survivors guilt" because other's perished in war, so why didnt I?  

VA has been deficient for years..basically trying to spread mental health services too thin.  

If medical care of your physical body can occur 24/7, how are Vets supposed to "turn off" their mental health needs for 22 hours a day?   

The fact that a Vet "shows up" in a ER seeking mental health services should be a red flag (blood red!!) and should be taken VERY, VERY seriously, even if the VEt does not appear to be "in mental distress".  Remember, we have been trained to hide our "mental distress" (suck it up, sailor!) so we Vets sometimes underreport the intensity of our symptoms.  

Again, Vets dont want to be seen as "whiners", so every ER visit needs to be taken seriously.  

I forget "which" mass shooting it was, but apparently it was by a Vet, and that Vet was refused (that is, delayed) mental health services.  When a Vet shows up in an ER for mental health services, he is not seeking those services 8 weeks down the road!!!!  He needs help NOW!!!  

Why is this so hard for VA to understand, OR, do they really not care about Vet suicide, and just put lipstick on the pig.  Remember, there is a financial incentive for VA to have a Vet commit suicide..it saves them many doctor visits, and, often potential VA comp benefits.  

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Well just my opinion the VA Mental Health Clinics have been trying to figure  this out for Years  and its change a lot in the last 5 years believe it or not,there's been times I have thoughts on Suicide  and its a scary feeling first thing the therapist goes into is Depression, maybe so but I am not so sure she is right .

I am probably depressed that part is correct but Depression and PTSD in my opinion is two different things, my PTSD is brought on by memories and guilt, if I get depressed its because I start thinking about why can't I be just like a normal person and not stay cooped up in my house  (bedroom usually) 

when we have company I tend to  get anxiety ( and really for no reason)  but it starts up and the only release I have is to be alone, I hate people walking up to me and talking to me or asking me a question  I can't have a decent conversation with anyone  although having a hearing impairment adds to this  but I do not want to blame my bad hearing  for the way I am with others   so I been in treatment for the last almost 5 years now. 

a trained therapist should know to read a veteran than comes in for help with these three words I NEED HELP

I think the VA is trying to get it right   they have helped me come along way since I started treatment  but I still have problems with anxiety and guilt from Vietnam   I am in a FIGHT or Flight  way of life  at present  and usually I take the flight rout,   its hard to fight the anxiety so the flight way is easier for me  were working on this at present.

with PCT THERAPY which is very hard to get through.

My VA Therapist and Physitrist  has implemented a safety plan for me and they do for each veteran that has a crisis , they let you know what to do in time of a crisis or you feel it coming on with information also I have a Virtual Hope Box App installed in my smart phone if I feel a crisis coming on  it helps  but the information the therapist provides me with  like how to cope how to breath when you feel anxiety or a crisis coming on once a veteran learns the tools he needs to cope better with his mental health problem   helps a lot   but it may not heal every veteran.

Usually when a distraught Veteran comes in for help  the therapist comes out when the clerks call them they need help out front.

  The therapist are trained to watch the veteran movements and actions and how they are breathing and how their eyes are and they do take Immediate action...as where in the past they would tell the veteran to take a seat and someone would be with you  in a little while , well the veteran would sit there for about 30 minutes then leave  this is the mistake the VA has made in the past and their working on this  this new system

 VA ensures Veterans have same-day access to emergency mental health care

I think its a lot better than it use to be but they still have a lot of work to do.

Mental Problems are real for every veteran that has a mental problem and its just so hard for anyone even the phyischrist to figure out their minds  no one can read minds and if a veteran opens up about his thinking this will help the therapist and how he feels and if veterans talks suicide  yes they lock him up right then  and should  most veterans that commit suicide they have found he don't take his medications  or take them has prescribe  but this can't be blamed on the Veteran or the VA.....

I really do think the VA Mental Health is trying to get things right  but its going to be a long process and there's going to be trials and errors

The best thing to do if you know a veteran is  in crisis call the hotline yourself get this veteran help ASAP no matter what.

or take him to the nearest E.R. OR VAMC

Edited by Buck52 (see edit history)
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This sounds promising

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