Assignment: Behavioral Health Needs

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Assignment: Behavioral Health Needs

Assignment: Behavioral Health Needs


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Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Veterans Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom


About the National Council The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council) is the uni- fying voice of America’s behavioral health organizations. Together with our 2,000 member organizations, we serve our nation’s most vulnerable citizens — more than 8 million adults and children with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. We are committed to providing comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and inclusion in all aspects of community life.

The National Council advocates for policies that ensure that people who are ill can access comprehensive healthcare services. We also offer state-of-the-science education and practice improvement resources so that services are efficient and effective.

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Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom

We have all heard the alarms about the mental health chal- lenges facing veterans of our most recent wars. Headlines have been awash in warnings about suicide, substance abuse, military sexual trauma, depression, PTSD, anxi- ety, and other mental health conditions. Simply put, the idea that veterans have significant mental health needs has reached the point where the response is often, “Well, of course – they’ve been to war.”

The good news is that these veterans are incredibly resilient and there are effective, proven, and cost saving treatments to help them.

To fulfill our national obligation, we need a mandate and the funding to deliver proper outreach and assessment techniques and evidence-based treatments for our veter- ans. This effort must occur where veterans receive care – the behavioral health care systems of the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and community-based care including the nation’s system of Community Behavioral Health Centers. Accomplishing this will save lives and money.

The following brief draws on a wealth of research to exam- ine the mental health needs of Americans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in Operation Enduring Freedom and/or Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). We then examine the cost savings available if veterans get the right care at the right time in the right setting.

My name is Huerta. I am an Amer- ican Soldier and I have PTSD. I refused to admit it to myself even when the Army doctors told me I had it in 2004. I refused to talk to anyone about it even when Army health professionals told me I needed to in 2005. I was afraid how Army leadership would react if I had that on my record. I was a Soldier, I was tough, I just needed to rub the patch and drive on. [. . .]

I am getting help because I’m tired of not being home. I am tired of be- ing on the battlefield I brought back with me. It is time for me to come home. It is time for all of us to come home. My name is Huerta and I am a wounded American Soldier, and I am not ashamed of my wounds and I have no genetic failing. I am proud of my service and I am going home. Let’s go home together. Leaving_the_battlefield__Soldier_shares_ story_of_PTSD



How Big is the Challenge?

Since 2001, 2.4 million active duty and reserve military personnel were deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of this group, 30% nearly 730,000 men and women will have a mental health con- dition requiring treatment. Studies have shown that 18.5% of all OEF/OIF veterans have post-trau- matic stress disorder, Major Depression, or both PTSD and Major Depression. Other Mental Health Disorders are estimated to affect 11.6% of those without PTSD or Major Depression. (Table 1)

In Texas alone, nearly 70,000 veterans of these wars will confront a mental health condition; in California, 63,000; in Florida, 50,000. This challenging legacy of the service given by these men and women is present in virtually every community across the country. (Appendix 2) These numbers are much greater than what was initially expected in 2003 and will reverberate through the military, vet- erans, and civilian mental health care systems for years to come.

Addressing Mental Health Needs through Evidence-Based Care

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