Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury are becoming the most treated mental health issues for ArkLaTex veterans. Soon ground will be broken on a new facility.
10,000 veterans are treated yearly for mental health issues at Overton Brooks VA Medical Center. 2,000 are seen on a regular basis.
"Mental health has roughly doubled in the number of people that it sees over the past few years. In part that's the result of the conflicts and the new people coming into our system but in part it's due to the aggressive outreach in VA towards all veterans" says the Mental Health Service Chief Dr. Dean Robinson.
"We want to provide those services that our veterans need. So if you have a group that meets every week, or every other week you want to have a place for them to meet and talk and be comfortable and not all jammed in a little room somewhere" says Public Affairs Officer Sandy Franks.
A busy parking lot will slowly become that place for them to go. A new 2-story, 21,000 square foot facility that looks like the current building will enable veterans to receive state of the art care.
"We know that everybody deals with issues in a different way and we want to make sure we're there to help people deal with issues and make sure that we can give them medication, and we can give them counseling, there's lots of different things we can do for them" says Franks.
"We're hopeful that over the next couple of years, we'll see an improvement in both the number of different things we can do and also how quickly people make use of us" says Dr. Robinson.
The VA center will break ground in January for the two story building and plans enable an additional four stories in the future.
Franks encourages all veterans to get in touch with their business office or log onto www.va.govto find out if they qualify for benefits. She says "If you're having mental health issues, we can't always tough it out and say, 'Gosh I can fix this myself, they're going to think I'm crazy'. Well, we don't think that."
There are also three Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) to treat mental health issues in Monroe, Longview and Texarkana, Arkansas.