Wednesday, November 02, 2011

20% of the Homeless are Former Veterans (Try Telling this to Tricare, Veterans' Insurer, With Whom Mental Health Professionals Cannot Engage)

"Highlights from the Nov. 1 commissioners meeting: Tough times for veterans

....Kevin Turner, supervisor of Buncombe County Veterans Services, updated commissioners on the problems facing veterans and the work of the department.

According to Turner's presentation:

• In 2010, roughly 21,390 vets lived in Buncombe County. Only five counties in N.C. had more vets living there.

• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent more than $136 million in Buncombe County – more than in all but six other counties in the state.

• About 1,000 WWII vets die around the country every day.

• An average of 18 vets commit suicide every day. The rate of suicide among vets is over twice the rate of the rest of the population.

• 8 percent of the population are veterans, but 20 percent of the homeless population are veterans.• Over 300,000 vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to suffer from mental health conditions; the lifetime treatment of those veterans is estimated to cost at least $660 billion (more than the direct costs of both wars combined).

• Some estimate that up to 35 percent of the 2 million vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade could suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder......"


If we wanted to effect the homeless population significantly and diminish human suffering in general, we would provide mental health treatment to veterans suffering w/ PTSD. The treatment for PTSD is Exposure Therapy/ Desensitization. This is very well established now .

However, trying to get on the panel, as a provider, associated w/ Tricare, the primary insurer for veterans, is next to impossible.

I've tried several times, in a concerted manner, to get on the panel of Tricare (I am a Medicare/ Medicaid/ Humana, etc., provider.) You send in the paperwork, something happens to it, then you get busy w/ the taking care of clients which leads to being paid-----months go by---you never hear anything----and then you have to start hammering on that system again. Its ridiculous. Haywood county, next to Buncombe, has more veterans than any other county in NC.

Here is my comment to the above recent overview in the Mountain XPress re: this veterans matter:

"Psychologists provide mental health care to veterans. Exposure therapy/ desensitization is the treatment approved for treatment of PTSD, be they survivors of sexual/ physical/ emotional abuse or vets exposed to trauma. It takes a well trained mental health provider to enact this service. Indeed, the largest psychologist doctoral level internships in the US are associated w/ the VA System.

Outpatient mental health care is provided, for the most part, by the insurer, Tricare. Trying to get onto the panel of Tricare, in order to work w/ veterans in western NC, is next to impossible even for a licensed doctoral level psychologist. They do not respond to queries; you get re-routed to various parts of the federal insurance system; endless e mails and queries go nowhere.

If the feds want the vets to receive efficient, quality mental health care for PTSD, then Tricare needs to become a functional entity, like Medicare.

Its sordid and frankly un-American to have former veterans as 20% of the homeless population.

Get it together, Tricare, and stop making it impossible for professionals to work w/ veterans trying to recover from serving the country.

Marsha V. Hammond, PhD, NC Lic Psychologist


Post a Comment

<< Home