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Eric Shinseki Says Returning Vet Numbers Behind VA Mental Staff Increase

Eric Shinseki

The Department of Veterans Affairs will add an estimated 1,600 mental health clinicians.

Psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and nearly 300 additional support staff will join the VA’s current 20,590-strong mental health workforce.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said the increasing numbers of returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq place more responsibility on the VA to ensure veterans can access mental health care.

The move is part of an ongoing department-wide review of its mental health operations review, the VA said.

The review indicated some of the department’s facilities need more mental health staff to serve growing needs of veterans.

The department projected the need of 1,900 clerical and clinical mental health staff based on the review’s model for team delivery of outpatient mental health services.

Last year, nearly 1.3 million veterans received mental health services and the VA has seen a 35 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving those services since 2007.

The VA has increased the mental health care budget by 39 percent since 2009.

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