News

Obama plans executive steps to boost vets’ mental health care

Obama plans executive steps to boost vets’ mental health care

VETERANS HEALTH: President Barack Obama speaks at Fort Belvoir, Va., Thursday, August 7, about H.R. 3230, the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. The bill gives resources to the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve access and quality of care for veterans.. Photo: Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, weeks after signing legislation to fix delays in veterans’ healthcare, will unveil a series of executive actions on Tuesday aimed at improving access to mental health treatment for former service members.

Obama will outline the steps in a speech to the American Legion veterans’ organization in Charlotte, North Carolina, the White House said. His appearance comes after he signed a $16.3 billion bill earlier this month to provide veterans with more timely medical care and fix problems in the scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department.

The VA was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after allegations surfaced that it had covered up the months-long wait times some veterans had to endure before receiving medical care.

In addition to outlining steps the government is taking to ensure that “inexcusable delays” in care at some VA facilities do not happen again, Obama said some of his executive actions would focus on improving access to mental health treatment.

He said service members leaving the military who are being treated for mental health conditions would now be automatically enrolled in a program in which mental health professionals help them move to VA care.

Currently, service members must be specifically referred to the program by their Defense Department providers or seek out the program on their own.

“Additionally, VA will implement a new policy to ensure that recently discharged service members enrolling in the VA health care system maintain access to mental health medication prescribed by an authorized DoD provider regardless of whether the medication is currently on VA’s formulary,” the White House said.

It added that exceptions would occur where the health care provider identifies a safety or clinical reason to make a change in medication.

Among other steps are the launch of a $34.4 million suicide prevention study involving 1,800 veterans at 29 VA hospitals and expanding suicide prevention and mental health training for healthcare providers and chaplains who work with veterans.

The White House said Obama would also announce a new voluntary partnership with financial lenders to make it easier for veterans to get mortgage interest rate reductions and reduced monthly payments.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Editing by Ken Wills)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Appellate Court Agrees AFSCME Workers Owed Money

Updated
afscme

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that back wages owed thousands of state government workers from 2011 to 2013 must be paid.

in Local

Boys and Girls Club Awarded Grant

boys girls club

Facility was close to shutting its door a few years ago

in Local

Man Arrested for Domestic Stabbing

knife

A Springfield man is in jail following a stabbing early Tuesday morning on Stevenson Dr.

in Election 2014, Local

Ill. U.S. Senate Candidates Disagree on ISIS Strategy

capitol

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says no to sending U.S. ground troops back to Iraq, but his Republican opponent in the Senate race says they shouldn’t have left in the first place.

in Local

2014 Crop Harvest: Great Yields, Low Prices

crops

The 2014 crop year might be best remembered as a year of great yields and short prices.