Debate Raised Over VA Mental Health Counseling for Active Military

A proposal for offering mental health counseling to active duty military and their families is sparking debate. Currently, counseling at vet centers run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is offered to veterans.

The Senate-approved proposal opens the mental health counseling services to active servicemembers and their immediate family. This would include parents, siblings, spouses, children and step-children of active duty military members. There are over 350 Vet Centers across the U.S. that provide health benefits to veterans.

The Mental Health Counseling Shortages

The department already struggles to meet the demand for mental health evaluations and appointments. A recent initiative is working on increasing the mental health staff at many facilities by hiring 1,600 more mental health professionals nationwide.

Even with the new hires, mental health counseling is often in high demand and getting an appointment can take weeks, if not months. Some veterans’ disability advocates are worried that by expanding the mental health counseling services to provide health benefits to active duty members and their families, the resources could be stretched even thinner.

The Importance of Mental Health Counseling for Veterans

Mental health disabilities are a concern for many veterans. The prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and veteran suicide cases has led to a greater need for mental health screening, preventative measures, and follow-up appointments and treatment for mental health disorders.

Many mental health disorders can become disabling conditions if not properly diagnosed and treated. PTSD is one of the most common mental health disorders that may require counseling and treatment. According to the VA, an estimated 11-20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are affected by PTSD. The rates are higher for Vietnam veterans, with an estimate of 30 percent of veterans experiencing PTSD.

Veterans Disability Benefits for Mental Health Disorders

When a veteran is diagnosed with a mental health disorder that developed due to military service, he or she may be eligible for veterans’ disability benefits. To qualify, veterans must prove:

  • the dates and locations they served in the military;
  • evidence of any service-related injuries or exposures;
  • a diagnosis of a disabling condition; and
  • a disability rating.

The documentation necessary to file a claim for veterans’ disability benefits can be extensive. A veterans’ disability attorney in South Florida can help you gather this information and process a claim, helping you avoid unnecessary delays in benefit approval due to an incomplete application.

If you are disabled as a result of military service and are applying for benefits – or appealing a decision – a veterans’ disability attorney at the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group is ready to help. Call 1-855-855-8992.