Community-Based Mental Health Providers Not Prepared to Care for Veterans

In the past few months, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has increased the number of referrals to non-VA care providers. This move is in response to investigations surrounding the long wait times and difficulties many veterans have experienced in seeing doctors and medical professionals at VA facilities. However, a recent study has revealed that many of these community-based mental health providers are not equipped to handle the unique conditions and provide the necessary care to veterans and military families.

An exploratory report from the RAND Corporation commissioned by United Health Foundation in collaboration with the Military Officers Association of America surveyed mental health providers across the nation. The results of the survey found that most community providers did not meet criteria for military cultural competency.

Terri Tanielian, the lead author of the study and senior social research analyst at RAND, says that these providers are not as well equipped to meet the needs of military patients and their families. “There is a need for increased training among community-based providers in high quality treatment techniques for PTSD and other disorders that are more common among veterans.”

Even though the VA ran a hiring initiative that added over 1,000 more mental health clinicians and over 200 support staff members to its mental health services after President Obama ordered it to add more staff, many veterans still seek care from non-VA community providers. Veterans seeking mental health care from a non-VA, community-based provider should look for providers who have specific training in supporting and treating military members.

Recommendations have been made to create a registry of mental health practitioners who have been verified to comply with standards of care for veterans and their families. Policymakers are also being encouraged to improve training in evidence-based treatment approaches, a practice prevalent in VA mental health care but not as common in community care centers.

At the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group our representatives advocate for veterans who have been denied benefits by the VA. If you would like one of our representatives to review your case, contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation 1-855-855-8992.