July 24, 2021

By Sarah MertinNext Big Future’s Sarah Merton takes a look at the growing list of chronic diseases affecting veterans, how the US is struggling to manage its mental health crisis, and the role of the VA.

Read more Sarah MervinNext BGR: Veterans mental health in the spotlightA look at chronic disease trends affecting veterans:A mental health report by the Office of the Inspector General, released on Tuesday, showed that the number of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the US rose by over 30% from 2016 to 2019, and that the rate of veterans experiencing mental health issues doubled from 2014 to 2019.

The report also revealed that the veterans with PTSD and related disorders experienced more than twice the number times the number who were diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

According to the report, the number for veterans with other mental health disorders increased by over 4,500% over the same period.

In the report’s findings, the US Army and Air Force reported the highest number of veteran suicides among the military services, at more than 3,000 a year, followed by the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard and the National Guard.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also reported that more than 6,800 veterans died during the past 12 months due to mental health problems.

Veterans in the military service have long faced long waits to receive care from the VA, with delays ranging from three to eight years. 

The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General found that in 2016, nearly 1 in 5 veterans were waiting at least 12 months to receive mental health care.

VA has been working to address mental health disparities for veterans for years, with the agency establishing the Veterans Mental Health Program in 2010.

While the VA has expanded mental health resources for veterans, it has also focused on mental health treatment, training and outreach to combat stigma.

In 2018, the VA launched the VA’s “The VAMP Challenge” program to help veterans transition into civilian life, including training in job readiness, job skills and other skills necessary for successful civilian life.