Veterans and Mental Health
Veterans of military service, particularly those deployed to combat areas, are at increased risk for mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and problems functioning in social and work settings. The long duration and repeated deployments experienced by combat veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan make it more likely that these veterans may experience mental health challenges.
(Source: JAMA 2006;1023-32)
CDPH encourages all eligible veterans to enroll for health care benefits to make sure they receive all benefits offered through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)’s national health care system. VA offers comprehensive medical care, including medical outpatient and inpatient services, and mental health care. VA mental health care is governed by nine guiding principles, including:
Focus on Recovery – empowering the Veteran to take charge of his/her treatment.
Coordinated Care for the Whole Person – emphasizing roles of physical health, satisfying work, social support, and healthy living in mental health
Mental Health Treatment in Primary Care – integrating mental health treatment in primary care treatment team
Mental Health Treatment Coordinator – coordinating overall mental health goals
Around-the-Clock Service – 24/7 availability of emergency mental health care
Care that is Sensitive to Gender & Cultural Issues – sensitivity to military culture, gender differences, and ethnic issues
Care Close to Home - working with other health care providers in the community
Evidence-Based Treatment – providing only those treatments proven to work
Family & Couple Services – able to include immediate family or legal guardian in services, such as family therapy, marriage counseling, grief counseling, etc.
If you are a veteran or know a veteran in need of mental health services, here are links to support:
Make the Connection, connects Veterans and their friends and family members with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives
Veterans Crisis Line, provides free and confidential help for Veterans and their families, services available regardless of discharge status or enrollment with VA health care
Veterans Crisis Line - 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 for immediate connection with trained VA responder), available 24 hours a day
call 1-800-799-4889 for TTY service, or text 838255