Following a recent report by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) that outlined severe delays in providing mental health evaluations and treatment for veterans, the American Counseling Association has launched an initiative to bring these facts to the public and emphasize the need for the VA to hire more mental health professionals.
“ACA is conducting an aggressive outreach campaign to various media markets to highlight the fact that the VA has been falling behind in their efforts to recruit and obtain all available mental health clinicians, specifically including licensed professional counselors (LPCs),” says ACA Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator Art Terrazas.
Terrazas and ACA Chief Professional Officer David Kaplan have spoken to more than 10 media outlets about ACA’s stance on the VA’s actions.
“In the instances in which ACA has been able to obtain an interview, we have spoken about the fact that ACA is skeptical of the VA’s recent announcement that it intends to recruit LPCs to work in the VA, mainly for two reasons,” says Terrazas. “First, the Under Secretary for Health at the VA, Dr. Robert Petzel, notified ACA that LPC students would not be included in the VA’s training program. Coincidentally, ACA was notified about this the same day that the VA announced that it would be including LPCs among the 1,600 new positions it’s hiring. The second reason is that the VA has been empowered to hire LPCs for almost six years and has done almost nothing to recruit and hire LPCs over the years.”
“In fact,” continues Terrazas, “ACA’s own analysis of jobs that are posted on USAJobs.com shows that while 24 positions for LPCs have been announced over the last 17 weeks, 626 positions have been posted for social workers.”
For more information on ACA’s efforts to add more counselors to the VA and improve mental health treatment for veterans, read the June “Washington Update” article, “Pressure increases on VA to improve mental health treatment.”
Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.