White House to Increase Funding for Vet Mental Health, Homelessness

Most of the coverage of the President's plan to improve healthcare for veterans, announced yesterday, revolved around the establishment of a new electronic medical records system that will allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to more easily access military health records. But some veterans groups will be more pleased with a less publicized aspect of the plan: an increase in funding for vets suffering from mental health problems or traumatic brain injury. In his remarks, the President said:

Because the nightmares of war don't always end when our loved ones return home, this budget also meets the mental health needs of our wounded warriors. Untold thousands of servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other serious psychological injury. The growing incidence of suicide among active military returning veterans is disturbing. Sometimes the deadliest wounds are the ones you cannot see, and we cannot afford to let the unseen wounds go untreated. And that's why this budget dramatically increases funding for mental health screening and treatment at all levels. It increases the number of vet centers and mobile health clinics, expanding access to this needed care in rural areas. And it helps reduce the stigma of seeking care by adding mental health professionals to educate veterans and their families about their injuries and their options.

And because thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have suffered from Traumatic Brain Injury, one of the signature injuries of these wars, this budget improves services for cognitive injuries. And many with TBI have never been evaluated by a physician. And because such injuries can often have long-term impacts that only show up down the road, this funding will help ensure they receive the ongoing care they need.

The administration will also attempt to tackle veteran homelessness by funding a pilot program to help prevent veterans from losing their homes.