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VA offers mental health help to vets with other-than-honorable discharges

by Take Two®

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The Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, N.M. Albuquerque had among the worst wait times in the country for mental health, while Cincinnati, Ohio, was among the best. The VA's data show both received the same number of psychiatrists from the Veterans Choice funding. Russell Contreras/AP

Earlier this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs began offering emergency mental health services to veterans who had less-than-honorable discharges.

Because of "bad paper discharges," as they are sometimes called, these veterans were previously not eligible for such services.

The goal of this change is to address the alarming rate of suicide among veterans. According to a recent VA report, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014.

"Really, what they're offering at this point is emergency services," Sara Kintzle, told Take Two's Libby Denkmann. Kintzle is a Research Associate Professor with USC's Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. She explained what this new policy provides for veterans.

"If you are feeling low; if you're feeling that suicide might be an option for you, you have the option to go into emergency mental health services." 

Kintzle is the co-author of a recent USC study that looked at the transition from military to civilian life. She found a great discrepancy in the psychology of veterans with less-than-honorable discharges to those with honorable ones. 

"The rates of PTSD, the rates of depression and suicide ideation in those with a less-than-honorable discharge were even more alarming," Kintzle said. "Even more concerning is that... Over 85 percent of the veterans [with a less-than-honorable discharge] in the study who screened positive for PTSD depression or suicide were not receiving any help."

To hear the full conversation, click the blue player above.

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