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Thursday, January 04, 2007

VA Chief: 'More Affirmative' Effort to Reach Vets w/PTSD

From the Tucson Citizen:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is making a "more affirmative effort" to reach "young combatants" from the war on terror "to treat them early" for post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological effects of serving in combat, the head of the department said in Tucson Wednesday.

Veterans Affairs Secretary R. James Nicholson...said the VA wants to avoid any delay in treatment for soldiers because of lack of awareness of the real effects of PTSD. He cited the 20- and 30-year lag in treatment for Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD who turned to drugs and alcohol to treat post-combat symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The VA has added 50 full-time "Global War on Terrorism" outreach specialists to vet center staffs around the country to increase the effort to talk to veterans about the unique stress they experience under combat conditions. And the VA announced plans in June to open a second vet center in Phoenix this year to provide outpatient evaluation and counseling. There is one vet center in Tucson, at 3055 N. First Ave., and a total of 207 community-based veteran centers throughout the nation.

Nicholson said if more U.S. troops are deployed to Iraq, he will seek additional medical-care funding for injured veterans. "We will take care of discharged vets as the need arises," he said.

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