A recent study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicates that the number of Veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who sought mental health services at Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care facilities has increased three-fold since 2006.
In 2006, 35,400 Veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) sought mental health services at VA facilities; by 2010, the number of OEF/OIF Veterans seeking services had increased to 139,000. OEF/OIF Veterans accounted for 12 percent of the 1.2 million veterans who received VA mental health services in 2010.
The increase may be the result of VA opening more than 60 Vet Centers, which offer free individual and family counseling; medical screening; employment assistance; and substance abuse and mental health assessments. Additional efforts to expand VA health services include: off-hours clinic appointments, a new website for the National Center for PTSD, and using social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to get the word out about assistance with mental health issues.