MARION, IL (KFVS) - The secretary of Veterans Affairs has announced the department will add about 1,600 mental health clinicians, as well as nearly 300 support staff to their existing workforce.
Secretary Eric K. Shine says the VA estimates that 10 clinicians and one support person will be hired to support mental health operations at the Marion VA Medical Center's main campus and locations in Offing, Evansville, Indo., Paducah, Mayfield and Owens, KY. He says funding has now been distributed to the medical center and recruitment is underway.
VA has an existing national workforce of 20,696 mental health staff that includes nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. Currently, they say 106 local mental health clinicians work to support 42,500 veterans in southeast Illinois, southwestern Indiana, western Kentucky.
With each additional mental health care provider, a facility could potentially reach hundreds more veterans battling mental illness. New providers will join a team that is already actively treating veterans through individualized care, readjustment counseling and immediate crisis services. The medical center says more staff members also afford opportunities to look long-term and expand into cutting edge Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder research and to explore alternative therapies. Secretary Shinseki noted that "as the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity, and the responsibility, to anticipate the needs of returning veterans."
The VA says they anticipate the majority of those hired will be local and within about six months. They say the most hard-to-fill positions will be filled by the end of the second quarter of fiscal year 2013.