APA testifies on care of veterans and returning service members
by APA Practice Organization Communications Staff
April 23, 2008 — As unprecedented levels of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental health issues are reported among the nearly 1.7 million U.S. service members who have been deployed in the War on Terror and the healthcare needs of our aging veterans continue to grow, psychologists are more in demand than ever.
With 153 hospitals and 731 outpatient clinics serving approximately 7.8 million war veterans and current servicemen and women, The Veterans Health Administration operates the nation's largest health care system and is the largest single employer of psychologists in the country. On April 9, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs gathered at a hearing entitled, "Making the VA the Workplace of Choice for Health Care Providers" to discuss improving recruitment and retention of psychologists and other health care providers in the system.
Randy Phelps, PhD, deputy executive director and administrative director of the APA Practice Directorate, on behalf of APA, and Jennifer L. Strauss, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, representing Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA), addressed the committee.
Dr. Phelps shared with the committee the myriad initiatives APA currently has underway to assist veterans. These include:
Extending services to veterans in rural areas where existing VA and Department of Defense facilities are simply beyond the reach of patients,
Forming two Presidential Task Forces on the Needs of Military Service Members and Their Families and recently adopting "Blueprint for Change: Achieving Integrated Healthcare for an Aging Population",
Providing testimony supporting increases over the Administration's FY '09 VA Medical and Prosthetic Research Account funding levels.