Archive for January, 2018

VA Facilities Now Offer Same-day Care for Urgent Primary and Mental Health-care Needs

VA Facilities Now Offer Same-day Care for Urgent Primary  and Mental Health-care Needs 

WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced a major milestone, that 100 percent of its more than 1,000 medical facilities across the country now offer same-day services for urgent primary and mental health-care needs.

Same-day services means a Veteran with an urgent need for primary care and mental health-care receives services that may include: a face-to-face visit with a clinician; advice provided during a call with a nurse; a telehealth or video care visit; an appointment made with a specialist; or a prescription filled the same day, depending upon what best meets the needs of the Veteran.

“We made a commitment to our nation’s Veterans that we would work to reduce wait times and improve access, and we are doing it,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin. “We were able to meet this goal, in large part, because of the concerted focus of our staff who care for our Veterans in facilities across the country.”

Since 2014, VA has concentrated its efforts on improving access and meeting the urgent health-care needs of Veterans. In 2016, all of VA’s medical centers offered same-day services for primary and mental health services.

In addition to offering same-day services, VA has reduced patient wait times. VA also implemented a new process to ensure timely follow-up appointments for time-sensitive medical needs. More than 100,000 such appointments have been completed.

In 2017, Veterans completed over 57.5 million appointments and VA clinicians saw almost 6 million patients.

To view access information about each facility nationwide, visit  The information provided at this link is not offered by any major national hospital organization in the country.

14 Jan, 2018  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
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Chapter & Unit 8 sends our condolences to Commander John Burden with the loss of his spouse Pat Burden.

On New Year’s Day 2018, Pat Burden passed away; Pat was one of the Founding Members of Unit 24 in Surprise and had risen to the office of Commander. She also held the office of Sr. Vice Commander for the State DAVA. This is a tragic loss for everyone who knew her and for the DAV and DAVA.​

Services for Pat Burden will be held on January 18, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Location: Christ Church of the Valley
14787 W Cholla StSurprise, AZ 

A reception will be held after the service @ DAV Chapter 20 located: 8447 N 61st Ave.  Glendale, AZ

 In lieu of flowers the family has requested that donations be made to Unit 24.  Anyone wishing to donate can mail their donation to DAV Department of Arizona, 38 W Dunlap Ave., Phoenix, AZ  85021 Attn:  Commander John Burden.

10 Jan, 2018  Posted by Carey Slade   No Comments »
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Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin declares suicide prevention as top clinical priority

Recently, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin declared suicide prevention his top clinical priority. As part of his prevention effort, effective July 5, 2017, VA began offering veterans with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative military discharges, an estimated 500,000 veterans, access to the full array of VA services if they require emergency mental health treatment. Former service members may enter the system to use this benefit by visiting a VA emergency room or Vet Center or by calling the Veteran Crisis Line. If it is determined to be a mental health emergency, the veteran may qualify for up to 90 days of care, which can include inpatient, residential, and outpatient care. During this time, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), will work together to determine if the veteran’s mental health issue is related to military service, which would make the veteran eligible for continuing medical care.

Image result for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Dr. David Shulkin

The Government Accountability Office reviewed military documents of veterans with OTH discharges between 2011 and 2015, and found that over 13,000 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury received OTH discharges. According to the military’s policy, these factors should have been considered in the character of discharge decision, but were not. Prior to Secretary Shulkin’s change in policy, these veterans with OTH discharges generally lacked access to VA mental health care services.

Despite VA’s dedicated efforts to reduce veteran suicide an average of 20 veterans per day take their own lives, 21 percent higher than non-veterans. In order to reduce this number VA established a crisis line and placed suicide prevention coordinator teams at every VA medical center. To date, the crisis line has answered 2.3 million calls, participated in 289,000 chats, replied to 55,000 texts, dispatched emergency services over 61,000 times, and provided over 376,000 referrals to VA suicide prevention coordinators. Most recently, the VA announced its efforts to train all its employees to recognize suicide warning signs to help ensure vulnerable veterans do not fall through the cracks. Recent independent assessments by Altarum and the RAND Corporation, found that the VA provides mental health and suicide prevention services that are superior to the private sector by as much as 30 percent across seven different performance indicators.

VA has made significant improvements in its mental health and suicide prevention services and the Department reports that veterans who choose VA are at lower risk for suicide. Unfortunately, many veterans do not elect to use VA, or they are ineligible to receive care. Secretary Shulkin noted that 70 percent of veterans who commit suicide are not regular VA patients. The most comprehensive study to date covering veteran suicide, published in July 2016, further demonstrates the increased risks for veterans who do not utilize VA services. This study found that since 2001, the rate of veterans using VA services who committed suicide increased by 5.4 percent, compared to an increase of 38.4 percent for those who did not use, or have access to, VA’s health care services. The statistics for female veterans are of particular concern. During the same time period, the rate of female veteran suicide decreased by 2.6 percent for VA users, but increased by 81.6 percent for women veterans who did not use VA services.

While more work is required to eliminate veteran suicide, this new policy to expand mental health care to eligible veterans with OTH military discharges is a step in the right direction. Secretary Shulkin stated, “we want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency.”

Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

07 Jan, 2018  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
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Congressman Mike Coffmanto increase the number of women hired as peer counselors for the Department of Veterans Affairs suicide prevention program

Congressman Mike Coffman (CO) introduced legislation, HR 4635, to increase the number of women hired as peer counselors for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suicide prevention program to specifically address the special needs of women veterans.

Image result for Congressman Mike Coffman (CO) image

Women veterans face unique challenges reintegrating in their homes and communities after deployment. They are more likely to be divorced, single parents, and lack a social network. They are also more likely to be unemployed and struggle financially, despite higher educational attainment than male peers. Exposure to military sexual trauma and substance abuse disorders make women veterans more prone to homelessness and at a higher risk for suicide.

Because women comprise a small, but growing portion of the veterans population using VA services, VA providers are not always knowledgeable or understanding of women veterans’ needs. Peer specialists have been shown to be especially successful in engaging veterans who need VA mental health services. Ensuring that culturally competent women peer specialists are available will ensure increased understanding of the barriers to care women veterans face, such as lack of child care, legal assistance and assistance with job placement or training.

DAV Resolution Nos. 225 and 245 support the enhancement of services for women veterans, including mental health services, and increased use of peer specialists, which allows DAV’s strong support for this bill.

Please use the prepared letter to urge your representative to cosponsor H.R. 4635 and move it forward for final passage.

Thank you for your support of the Commander’s Action Network.

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04 Jan, 2018  Posted by Beth   No Comments »
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