Ten thousand combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder flooded into VA hospitals every three months this year, pushing the number of patients ill with the disorder above 200,000 and straining resources, Department of Veterans Affairs data to be released today show.
he increase is more than 5% per quarter, according to data obtained by USA TODAY, and it occurs as the VA struggles to move veterans quickly into therapy. New mental health patients at about a third of VA hospitals wait longer than the department’s goal of 14 days or less, according to a USA TODAY analysis published this month.
“Demand for mental health care is only going to continue to grow as thousands more troops return home,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The VA still has work to do to decrease wait times, ”¦ reduce the stigma around seeking care and to provide access to care in rural areas.”