Mental health experts pushing VA for more community partnerships
Published: March 3, 2010
Using the old standby cliche "think outside the box" probably wasn't the best way to make a point about the Department of Veterans Affairs' need to innovate, but the message was heard nonetheless.
The VA simply can't be so insular if it wants to truly tackle mental-health issues and reach the high-risk population of veterans who largely haven't gone to the VA for help, experts told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday during a hearing on suicide prevention.
The Nation's Voice on Mental Illness and other groups urged more relationships with outside organizations.
"It is important for the VA to recognize that they fight a longstanding image as an inflexible and unresponsive bureaucracy," David Rudd, director of the National Center for Veteran Studies, said. "There is a need to stretch existing boundaries and explore public-private partnerships that provide new service alternatives for our veterans."
Nonprofits often tell me there is frustration that despite their desire, willingness and ability to help, the VA keeps them at arm's length.
Rudd suggested the VA utilize treatment programs in the community that offer the long-term treatment often needed for chronic mental health issues.