Magazine article Editor & Publisher

McClatchy Gets Documents on V.A. Trauma Problems

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

McClatchy Gets Documents on V.A. Trauma Problems

Article excerpt

Chris Adams of McClatchy Newspapers has obtained internal reports which show, according to an article distributed today that the Department of Veterans Affairs "which touts its special programs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in returning soldiers, spends little on those programs in some parts of the country, and some of its efforts fail to meet some of the VA's own goals.

"In fiscal year 2006, the reports show, some of the VA's specialized PTSD units spent a fraction of what the average unit did. Five medical centers -- in California, Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin -- spent about $100,000 on their PTSD clinical teams, less than one-fifth the national average."

An excerpt follows.*

The documents also show that while the VA's treatment for PTSD is generally effective, nearly a third of the agency's inpatient and other intensive PTSD units failed to meet at least one of the quality goals monitored by a VA health-research organization. The VA medical center in Lexington, Ky., failed to meet four of six quality goals, according to the internal reports.

A top VA mental-health official dismissed the reports' significance, saying veterans receive adequate care, either in specialized PTSD units or from general mental-health providers. In addition, he said, some of the spending differences aren't as extreme as the documents indicate, and the department is working to increase its resources for mental health treatment.

As the VA prepares for a surge of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans experiencing PTSD, it's come under fire for staffing and funding shortfalls in its mental health units and for the wide differences in how much it spends on such treatment at its medical centers. …

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