A Gap in Equity Related to Mental Health Access for Veterans

Introduction

The differences in access to insurance coverage and the availability of high-quality medications cause health disparities. Veterans have several difficulties, one of which is a lack of equal access to mental health care. Socioeconomic position, age, and other factors contribute to a widening disparity between the various categories. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects veterans of all ages and gender. Over 4 million veterans in the U.S. have had a service-related disability, including physical and mental issues that were exacerbated during military duty. Several studies have indicated that veterans and some current troops have considerable obstacles in adapting to civilian life after deployment, and PTSD is the most common. Because of this reason, PTSD may impact family members because they are engaged in the treatment. The medication can hence be difficult when the veterans have impairments or other disorders, such as depression or drug addiction.

The United States has fought many long and bloody wars in Iran and Afghanistan while sending many soldiers there for peacekeeping. More than 6,000 deaths and 45,000 injuries among the 2 million troops committed to the two nations since the conflict started. As a result, veterans have suffered from PTSD. Mental health issues are increasing among veterans at an alarming pace. According to Hester (2017), mental health issues were identified in more than half of the 5.5 million veterans who attended the Veterans Affairs Hospital (VA) in 2016. This caused a 31% rise from 2004, which was very alarming. Veterans seeking treatment for PTSD and other mental health issues are affected by the increasing number of veterans with mental health issues.

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The veterans seeking assistance from the VA are putting a more significant strain on healthcare professionals and family members who are already stretched thin trying to care for the growing number of veterans turning to the VA for aid. Many mental health practitioners are overworked due to a significant increase in veterans seeking medical attention, which harms the quality of treatment. Veterans with mental illness have been left behind because of a lack of sufficient treatment, which has resulted in many of them being lost in the system. The stigma and obstacles faced by retiring troops are another equality barrier. People get embarrassed about their mental health issues, humiliated over requiring therapy and seen as weak in some of the obstacles.

Even though soldiers acquire a wide range of abilities throughout their time in the military, many of them will leave the service with nothing more than a post-secondary degree. The skills they acquired while serving may prove useless after leaving the military. The stigma associated with mental illness, protracted hospital stays, logistics of medicine access, racial disparities, and a distorted view of age are all factors that contribute to the issue. Thus, most veterans find it challenging to adjust to civilian life or avoid work with full medical coverage.

Identifying gaps include a lack of mental health doctors, stigma, and hurdles. Veterans with mental health issues may not obtain the medicines they need if they are not taken care of sooner. Some may use drugs and other vices to cope with mental health issues. A lack of government attention to veterans may impact the number of persons who want to serve in the military. People serving in the military may worry that they will not get adequate long-term care. Because of veterans’ many difficulties in adjusting to civilian life, current programs fail to achieve their intended goals. These difficulties include mental illness, stigma, and a host of other impediments. Without addressing the equity gap, many veterans who suffer from mental illnesses, including PTSD and depression, may take their own lives. More discomfort, prejudice, marginalization, and a strained connection with family members might result from a lack of attention to the problem of medicine availability for mentally ill veterans. Veterans who have mental illness may not lead fulfilling lives once again.

Existing Initiatives

The Veterans Affairs hospital responded to their concerns in 2017 by implementing several initiatives, including REACH-VET, which analyzes veteran data to identify those who need mental health care to avert suicide and other cases of drug or chemical addiction. It will be easier for the Veterans Administration to avoid hospitalizations, suicides, diseases, and other negative repercussions in the future if this policy is implemented. As a result, a significant percentage of returning veterans are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because they participate in high-risk combat operations on the battlefield.

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The information obtained by the Veterans Affairs hospital assists in providing specialized therapy to veterans in need and the prevention of suicide, drug and substance abuse, and PTSD. Considering the VA’s regulatory oversight by Congress, it has been concluded that new legislation is necessary to ensure that the VA continues to fund non-profit and community suicide prevention centers in addition to its existing programs. The greater the number of veterans who participate in the program, the more probable it is that the other veterans will get the health treatment they need.

American Veterans (AMVETS) have devised strategies to overcome the gap in mental health care for veterans through enhancing REACH programs. VETs work closely with the Veterans Administration to ensure that veterans get medical treatment and integrate into society. The American Legion has developed a Health Evaluation, Advocacy, and Legislation (HEAL) program to help veterans with mental illness. The AMVETS group is dedicated to assisting returning troops in overcoming the stigma and mental health challenges they confront in society. Assisting troops to transition into civilian life and ensuring that veterans are treated with respect is also a goal of the organization, which has rules to help them receive access to medicine, reduce combat suicide, and enhance their health.

HEAL was formed to advocate for veterans and their families and aid their transition into civilian life. Amvets seeks to help veterans at higher risk of suicide, patients who need specialist therapy, veterans at risk of drug and alcohol misuse, and relatives of veterans with mental illness. HEAL’s goals need a team of experts to examine the quality of care that veterans get for their mental health issues. Additionally, the HEAL program collaborates with the VA to aid soldiers and their families through the healing process by developing lines of communication. The fundamental objective of AMVETS is to fight for the veterans by securing the implementation of policies and regulations that benefit them, veterans.

Approximately $700,000 is the anticipated cost of supporting AMVETS projects, according to Joyce Frieden’s article headlined Initiatives Aim to Help Veterans with Mental Problems. Considering the rising number of veterans with mental health issues in the United States, funding has been cited as a critical hurdle to the project. To guarantee that veterans get the best possible care for mental health issues and help them transition to civilian life, AMVETS will collaborate with different groups eager to aid the industry. The group has also proposed stock offerings to obtain the finances required for the project. HEAL will need time to evaluate whether the tactics will be effective since the effort began in 2018.

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A significant source of assistance for AMVETS is the executive order, which guarantees that the departments and agencies entrusted with helping veterans are held responsible and that they get the required healthcare. Trump signed an executive order in 2018 targeted at assisting veterans transition from military duty to civilian life, which is another effort to address mental health issues among veterans. The directive urged the development of action plans to assist veterans seeking mental health treatment as well as to address the issue of veteran suicide. To meet the President’s deadline of 180 days after the signing of the executive order, several departments were entrusted with producing a thorough action plan and reporting back to him on their progress. The goal of the directive is to hold those responsible for ensuring that veterans have access to health care and for helping them adjust to civilian life following their time in the military may be held accountable.

Regulations

The CMS issued guidelines for all firms working in Medicare. Medicaid providers must follow these guidelines if they want to participate in Medicaid programs and take advantage of the VBP effort, which is why these rules were created. To guarantee that only competent firms can provide for Medicare, the effort was implemented. The CoPs were put in place to serve better veterans who have mental illness and close the Medicare coverage gap while also improving the efficiency of CMHC providers.

Medicare and CHIP are all administered by the Centers for CMS. The group collects and analyzes data to prevent fraud and abuse in the healthcare system, among other things. It has also been beneficial to Medicare patients because of the rules issued by CMS. Providers will benefit from stricter Medicare regulations, according to CMS. It is CMS’ job to keep an eye on things and make sure the rules of participation are being followed. This is a must for community mental health centers to be eligible for Medicare. Military veterans with mental health issues are better served by this rule, which focuses on veterans’ lack of access to healthcare. Military veterans are getting the treatment they need, even if it means they have to go elsewhere for it.

Conclusion

Everyone in society relies on good mental health; thus, it’s essential to ensure everyone has it. Many veterans suffer from mental health issues in a hostile environment, asymmetric warfare, and the number of tours of duty they have completed. Several studies have shown that former soldiers are more likely to suffer from depression than their civilian counterparts. Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder seek therapy from the VA regularly. However, additional steps are required to assist returning service members in adjusting to civilian life and helping the country in different roles following their first deployment. To close the hole, make sure they access mental health treatments.

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Reference

Hester, R. D. (2017). Lack of access to mental health services contributing to the high suicide rates among veterans. International journal of mental health systems, 11(1), 1-4.

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