Mental health is a serious issue for veterans and VA. Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or some other form of mental illness. The failure to properly and timely treat mental illnesses can have very serious consequences, including suicide.
That is why it is especially concerning that a General Accountability Office report found that some veterans are waiting over nine months to get an initial evaluation from VA for mental health treatment. A Military Times article reported that an analysis of 100 mental health cases showed that veterans were waiting an average of 26 days from a request for treatment to initial evaluation. The Military Times article also noted that many veterans experienced a substantial wait time between their initial mental health evaluation and when their treatment actually began.
The VA medical system has been under intense scrutiny since 2014 with reports of veterans who died waiting for care in Phoenix. Nine months is certainly too long for someone to wait for evaluation for any sort of treatment. Since the Phoenix scandal, VA has instituted policies to decrease the amount of time that veterans have to wait for medical treatment. For example, Veterans Choice provides veterans who have been or will be waiting more than 30 days for care to get treatment outside of the VA system. Veterans who have to drive over a certain distance to a VA facility can be eligible as well.
We want a VA health system that provides veterans with quick and effective medical treatment. Many recent reports indicate that many veterans are not receiving medical treatment in a timely manner. Hopefully, VA will work to fix these issues and provide veterans with the medical treatment they need.