1. The demand for additional mental health care resources for veterans is clear
The VA spent $6.6 billion on mental health in FY2014 and plans to spend $7.1 billion – about 12% of its entire $59 billion health care budget for the year – on mental health in FY2015. These expenditures make VA the largest provider for mental health care and research in the nation, as well as the most significant investor in mental health research.
Unfortunately, the VA has struggled to meet the demand for veterans’ mental health care. The VA has begun addressing the shortfall by hiring more clinicians, using contractors and other means. However, clinical appointment wait times remain long, and these approaches are not yet fully meeting demand, let alone building capacity to meet projected future demands.