WASHINGTON — Veterans at risk of suicide have to wait too long to get mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, senators said Wednesday at a hearing to learn how to stem the rising number of suicides.
“We cannot have someone call in for an appointment and have to wait five weeks to get help,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., told VA representatives. “The VA has to start planning and requesting necessary resources now.”
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at a higher risk for suicide than the general U.S. population, said Harold Kudler, the chief mental health services consultant for the VA’s Health Administration.
The VA has 150 medical centers, 820 community outpatient clinics, 300 vet centers for counseling, a crisis line and staff at colleges and university across the country. It still needs more, Kudler told the members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.