VA plans to add 1,900 mental health workers

The hires come amid reports of long wait times for veterans at VA facilities for mental health care, which Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Senators ask CBO to review options for preventing surprise medical bills White House proposes limits on student loan borrowing as part of higher education reforms MORE (D-Wash.) says will be documented in an Inspector General report that he requested, which will soon be released.

“I am pleased that the VA has taken this desperately needed step toward providing timely access to mental health care,” Murray said. “Too often we have seen staff vacancies, scheduling delays and red tape leave those veterans who have been brave enough to seek help in the first place left with nowhere to turn.”

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House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) echoed Murray, saying it was “imperative” that wait times were decreased, particularly with an surge of veterans coming home from the wars.

“These are wounds that cannot wait,” Miller said.

Miller said Shinseki’s announcement was “a start,” but added, “there is much more, however, that VA needs to do to address gaps in services and ensure veterans undergoing treatment are not lost in the system.”

The VA said it will use funds from its current budget to begin hiring for the new positions immediately.