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President Obama Issues Executive Order to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans

Saturday, September 01, 2012

On August 31, 2012 President Obama issued an Executive Order directing various federal agencies including the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense (DoD), and Health and Human Services (HHS) to work together to expand access to mental health services for veterans, service members, and their families.

Under this Order the President established requirements for:

  • Expansion of suicide prevention efforts;
  • Expansion of the number of mental health professionals who are available to see veterans beyond traditional business hours;
  • Reviews of mental health and substance use programs to identify those that have the greatest support for their effectiveness and align resources to ensure that effective programs are implemented and less effective programs are replaced;
  • Establishment of pilot projects where the VA contracts or develops formal arrangements with community providers to promote faster access to mental health and substance use services;
  • Development of guidance for VA medical centers and service networks to support the use of community mental health services, including telehealth services and substance abuse services;
  • Creation of a plan for a rural mental health recruitment initiative to promote opportunities for the VA and rural communities to share mental health providers when demand is insufficient for either the VA or the communities to independently support a full-time provider; •Hiring and training of 800 VA peer-to-peer counselors;
  • Recruiting and hiring 1,600 VA mental health professionals by June 30, 2013;
  • Developing a National Research Action Plan to gain insight into the risk and mitigation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and related injuries; and
  • Establishment of an Interagency Task Force on Military and Veterans Mental Health, co-chaired by the VA, DoD and HHS Secretaries.