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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has developed an aggressive national mental health hiring initiative to improve recruitment and hiring, marketing, education and training programs, and retention efforts for mental health professionals.
To speed the national hiring process, VA developed the Mental Health Hiring Initiative, a multi-faceted, sustained national marketing and outreach campaign that includes targeted recruitment of mental health providers willing to take positions throughout the country, including in rural and highly rural markets, to serve all VA Medical Centers and community clinics.
VA has an existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff that includes nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. Currently, 120 mental health clinicians and support staff work locally supporting Western North Carolina Veterans. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki noted that “as the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to anticipate the needs of returning Veterans.”
The team at the Charles George VA Medical Center (CGVAMC) in Asheville is already actively treating Veterans through individualized care, readjustment counseling, and immediate crisis services. The CGVAMC staff has contributed to mental health excellence through a number of programs and initiatives in the Asheville area and Western North Carolina. The staff has inpatient programs, individual and group outpatient therapy programs, and offers Veterans help through substance abuse programs at the Asheville Medical Center as well as programs at two community based outpatient clinics in Franklin and Rutherfordton.
The VA is an active partner with local and state government mental health programs as well as a participant and supporter of nongovernment groups like the Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministries program for homeless Veterans, Guitars for Vets, Team River Runner and Project Healing Waters.
The initiative will help VA to meet existing and future demands of mental health care services in an integrated collaborative team environment and continue to position VA as an exemplary workplace for mental health care professionals.
“Mental health services must be closely aligned with Veterans’ needs and fully integrated with health care facility operations,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel. “Improving access to mental health services will help support the current and future Veterans who depend on VA for these vital services.”
To locate the nearest VA facility or Vet Center for enrollment and to get scheduled for care, Veterans can visit VA’s website at http://www.va.gov. Immediate help is available atwww.VeteransCrisisLine.net or by calling the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (push 1) or texting 838255.