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Union 'troubled' by shortage of services for veterans with PTSD

June 28, 2011
by News release
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Washington, D.C. — TheAmerican Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has recognized National PTSD Awareness Day (June 27) and joins other organizations in the mission to garner greater awareness and additional services for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the nation's men and women return home from war, all too often the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD can slip through the cracks because of inadequate staffing of mental health personnel at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and AFGE supports initiatives to address this issue. AFGE represents more than 200,000 employees throughout the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Public servants at the VA are on the front lines of veteran patient care and recognize that more must be done to treat veterans suffering from PTSD.

According to a release, AFGE is "troubled" by the shortages of mental health and support personnel, particularly because the VA has received advance appropriations to ensure these critical programs are fully staffed and meeting the needs of every veteran. "We are deeply concerned that we continue to see the top-heavy VA management grow, while the frontline staff treating these conditions shrinks and is forced to do more with less," said AFGE National Secretary-Treasurer J. David Cox. "The VA must increase staffing and training within the agency to treat the thousands of service members transitioning back into civilian life who are dealing with PTSD and other mental health disorders."

AFGE supports the mental health professionals, social workers and other VA employees within its ranks who advocate for streamlined PTSD services for veterans at every step of their process; through both the benefits and health sectors of the VA. These workers, many of whom are veterans themselves, do their best educate veterans about the mental health services available to them and to treat complex conditions, such as PTSD. But education and implementation of mental health services require greater attention to ensure that every veteran is aware of these services and can navigate the process with ease. "It is up to VA management to simplify the processes veterans must go through in order to receive necessary services and provide sufficient training to its employees on complex conditions," said Cox. "Our members have seen the frustration of veterans who must navigate a sometimes cumbersome bureaucracy and are eager to sit down with management to discuss workable solutions that will benefit our veterans."

The largest federal employee union, representing 625,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, AFGE is a strong supporter of National PTSD Awareness Day and will continue to advocate for additional resources for veterans coping with this disorder.

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