WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly hopes to get his “Servicemembers and Veterans Mental Health Care Package” (“Care Package”) signed into law, which is just one portion of the national defense bill.
Donnelly testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Tuesday. The “Care Package” would allow trained, private community mental health providers to treat service members and veterans. The senator says the “Care Package” will improve mental health care for service members and veterans to combat military and veteran suicide.
“We must improve mental health care for the men and women who serve our country and deliver that care in a way that meets their needs. A key challenge in overcoming this problem is understanding how stigma and provider shortages from budget constraints impact when and how service members and vets seek care,” says Donnelly.
According to the VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System, there are around 1,500 patients who have sought mental health treatment in the South Bend clinic alone.
“We’ve seen our demand increase, some of that may be due to returning veterans who are choosing to elect VA care over other types of care,” says Helen Rhodes, chief of mental health for the VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System.
The Northern Indiana VA had this to say about veterans seeking outside mental health care treatment:
“VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System supports any measure that will help us improve the mental health care of veterans in the communities we serve. We work hard to provide the best care every day and we’d like to invite our patients to contact us regarding any questions, concerns or compliments,” said representatives.
The national defense bill passed through the Senate and House or Representative and is currently awaits President Obama’s approval; however, the White House has said President Obama will veto the bill.