Half of Vets at VA Have Mental Health Problems

Numbers offer more proof of worsening problem
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2011 5:34 PM CDT
Bottles of prescription meds sit on the kitchen table at the West Virginia home of Iraq war veteran Andrew White, who died in his sleep. He was taking a powerful antipsychotic for PTSD.   (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

(Newser) – Further confirmation of a bad trend: More than half of military veterans treated at VA hospitals since 2002 have been diagnosed as having some kind of mental health problem, a newly released survey shows. When the advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense first began tracking the numbers in 2004, 20% of Iraqi and Afghanistan vets has such diagnoses, reports Pro Publica.

Almost 18,000 new patients got some kind of mental health treatment at VA hospitals in the last quarter of 2010, evidence that the problem is not abating. The Pentagon is working to increase mental health staff in war zones, which is admirable, says the chief of the vets' group. "But we also need to make sure we have enough doctors here.” Earlier this week, a federal appeals court demanded that the US dramatically improve its mental health services to soldiers, notes AP.

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