Veterans, service members, and their families will have expanded access to suicide prevention, mental health, and substance use treatment under an executive order signed late last week by President Obama.
The executive order directs the Veterans Administration to partner with the Department of Defense on a national 12 month suicide prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services. It also directs the VA to increase the veteran crisis line capacity by 50% by the end of the year and to ensure that any veteran identifying him or herself as being in crisis connects with a mental health professional or trained mental health worker within 24 hours or less.
Of particular interest to National Council members, the executive order directs the VA to partner with the Department of Health and Human Services to implement a 15-site pilot project in areas where the VA has faced challenges in hiring and placing mental health service providers and continues to have unfilled vacancies or long wait times. In pilot sites, VA will contract with community health centers, community mental health clinics, community substance abuse treatment facilities and other HHS grantees and community resources to help reduce VA mental health waiting lists.
In addition, the executive order includes provisions to increase the number of VA mental health providers serving our veterans, promote mental health research and development of more effective treatment methodologies, and launch a government-wide collaborative effort to address these issues through a Military and Veterans Mental Health Interagency Task Force. Click the links to read the executive order and a summary fact sheet.
XAS Advocacy Network Series (ANS)
Xiomara A. Sosa, ANS Executive Consultant
- The National Hispanic Veterans Advocacy Network
- The National Sexual Minority (LGBQQTI) Veterans Advocacy Network
- The National Hispanic Mental Health Professionals Advocacy Network
- The National Sexual Minority (LGBQQTI) Mental Health Professionals Advocacy Network
- The National Latina Mental Health and Wellness Advocacy Network
- The National Modern Family Mental Health and Wellness Advocacy Network
The XAS Advocacy Network Series (ANS) is a bilingual, culturally competent multi-platform advocacy campaign for diverse communities launched by XAS through Get-Right! and You Are Strong! in partnership with prominent social media and coalition partners.
Through these partnerships ANS helps shed light on issues affecting diverse communities through a series of articles about these community members’ needs, resources, events, spotlights, interviews and critical legislative, government, and military initiatives. The campaign includes Legislative Days with representatives and Town Hall Meetings with stakeholders.
The goal is to advocate for mental health and wellness and health and human services needs that are culturally competent and effect positive social change for these communities:
- Hispanic community
- Veteran community
- Sexual minority (LGBQQTI) community
XAS Consulting, LLC Founder Xiomara A. Sosa is committed to creating positive social change through culturally competent advocacy. Her advocacy work is done through the 2 nonprofit organizations she founded: The Get-Right! Organization, Inc. whose mission is to educate families, teach children, and support communities about mental health and physical health; and You Are Strong! Center on Veterans Health and Human Services whose mission is to combat negative stigma and provide health and human services information to veterans and their families.
Xiomara created this advocacy network series to build unity within and awareness about the mental health and wellness and health and human services needs of these communities. These advocacy networks are launched in partnership with like-minded social media and coalitions to unify health and human services professionals that advocate for mental health and wellness and health and human services needs of Hispanics, veterans, and sexual minorities (LGBQQTI). The advocacy campaign is based on empirical, evidence-based research data. This initiative elevates the voices of these communities and spotlights their unique challenges, needs and stories. The partnerships are a natural extension of the social media and coalition partners’ missions to help and support these communities by providing a platform where the greater community can share and receive culturally competent information.
Current ANS partners are:
Stay tuned for the next partnership launch in October 2012 during Hispanic Heritage Month:
NOTE: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE HISPANIC, A VETERAN, OR A SEXUAL MINORITY TO SUPPORT, JOIN OR PARTICIPATE IN THIS CAMPAIGN. EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTS THE ANS MISSION IS WELCOME!
ACA Responds to Scathing Report on Veterans Affairs
Following a critical report by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding severe delays in providing mental health evaluations and treatment for veterans, ACA has launched an initiative to shed light on this urgent matter, and highlight the need for the VA to hire more counselors. ACA staff have contacted news outlets to help us get the word out that there is no shortage of counseling professionals ready and qualified for this work.
The OIG report found that only about half of veterans received an initial mental health evaluation within 14 days; the rest had to wait on average 50 days before receiving an evaluation. The VA had claimed that 95 percent of veterans were evaluated within 14 days. In response to the report, the VA has said it intends to increase its mental health staff by 1,600 providers, and to begin hiring counselors for some of these positions. To date, however, very few counselor positions have been established at VA facilities, despite the fact that the law recognizing counselors was enacted back in 2006.
Several media interviews took place during the week of April 30. Additional interviews are scheduled for the week of May 7-11. Links to all articles published will be posted here, along with other documents developed to state our case.
Article in Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, Marine Corps Times, and Military Eagle Edge, May 3, 2012