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VA hires more mental health care professionals in Southern Nevada

Veterans seeking mental health care can look forward to a brighter future with the hiring of 22 more professionals announced Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs Southern Nevada Healthcare System.

The new mental health staff members augment the VA’s goal to hire 1,600 nationwide as set forth by an executive order President Barack Obama signed in August.

The VA has been swamped by a backlog of disability claims coupled with high demand for mental health care providers.

Isabel Duff, acting director of the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas, said despite the additional staff, “we are not slowing our efforts.”

The medical center, which opened last year, “will continue to actively recruit for any vacant mental health positions for the future so veterans will get the care they need,” she said in a news release.

In addition to its traditional approach to treat veterans battling mental health problems, the VA Medical Center supports a holistic approach to patient care.

The VA met its nationwide goal May 31 by hiring 1,607 additional mental health clinical providers. Another 2,005 were hired to fill vacancies.

In 2012, more than 1.3 million veterans received specialized mental health care from the VA, up from more than 927,000 in 2006.

According to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, meeting the goal “is an important achievement, but we recognize that we must continue to increase access to the quality mental health care veterans have earned and deserve.”

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

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