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U.S. Department Of Veterans' Affairs Meets Hiring Goal For Mental Health Professionals

The U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs has achieved a goal President Barack Obama set for it last year.  This week, the VA announced it has hired 1600 new mental health professionals.

The executive order signed by President Obama aimed at bolstering access to mental health services by challenging the VA to hire 1600 more mental health workers.  As of May 31st, the VA has hired 1607. 

The hirings include 45 service providers in the North Florida and South Georgia area.  Heather Frebe, Public Affairs Officer for the North Florida and South Georgia Veterans' Health System said the extra resources will allow the VA to extend the reach of its services for veterans.

“So really what that means for our veterans is that, in the past, you would have to come to our medical centers either in Lake City or Gainesville, but by offering some of these specialty clinics, we’re able to provide these services closer to where veterans live,” Frebe said.

Frebe said the increased staff size will help place greater resources in areas like Jacksonville where veteran populations are growing.  Frebe also said the staff increases for mental health will directly benefit VA services in the Tallahassee community.

“Tallahassee is one of our large specialty outreach clinics, and so we’re able to put more services in that clinic such as substance use disorder team and our PTSD team,” Frebe said.

According to Frebe, the Tallahassee clinic will operate as a kind of central hub supporting smaller clinics like those in Marianna and Valdosta. 

Steve Murray, spokesman for the Florida Department of Veterans' affairs is excited to see the impact of the larger staff.

“Well I think what we’re seeing is that these mental health professionals will be able to help veterans of all ages.  Whether they be World War Two veterans or whether it be our new younger returning veterans.  So this can only benefit Florida’s veteran community,” Murray said.

Further information can be found at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website, the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs website, and the Leon County Veterans’ Services website.