POSTED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 4:20pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 6:53am
HARLINGEN, TEXAS (KVEO NEWS CENTER 23) — Mental health disorders are not new to veterans around the US, but veterans' mental health needs have for years been under-treated and under-addressed. The Department of Veteran Affairs has announced that 1600 mental healthcare professionals will be added to facilities across the country to improve access to services. 25 of those professionals will work in the Rio Grande Valley.
"I think we see high rates of PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in our veteran population across the country. I think this is an area that - obviously, it's a low socioeconomic status in this area, and so we do need more services then what's traditionally been available."
About a dozen mental healthcare employees now work at VA Medical Health Care Center in Harlingen, and at least one veteran is appreciative.
"For me personally, I could see that I could see more people and have more availability to see, you know, the people that would be added to the system…along with pain it seems like depression can be a factor, so that's something that would be necessary-a necessity for a lot of people."
These new staff members are hoping to improve access to mental health services, specifically to prevent the negative consequences that can happen if mental health is neglected.
"If mental health disorders, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, go untreated, veterans can suffer from a wide range of lifelong issues. That's why Valley institutions, like VA Medical Health Care Center in Harlingen, are pushing for more mental health professionals."
"When mental health disorders aren't treated, veterans have difficulty maintaining stable relationships, uh, they have difficulty holding jobs, going back to school. So if they're able to get services for those mental health disorders then hopefully they'll be able to thrive in all those areas."
Reporting in Harlingen Marty Watson KVEO News Center 23.