24 mental personnel will be added to VA health system treating Valley and Coastal Bend veterans
LAREDO, TX— Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) expressed his support for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision to add 24 mental health personnel to its existing workforce in the Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Valley as part of a nationwide initiative to expand its mental health team.
“We have a sacred obligation to providing veterans accessible, timely and high-quality care, so I applaud all efforts by the VA to make sure our veterans are getting the services they’ve been promised and the benefits they’ve earned,” said Cuellar. “It is absolutely crucial that our current and future veterans receive the care they deserve for both body and mind. Each additional mental healthcare provider can potentially reach hundreds more veterans who are in need, so hiring additional mental health providers means more Rio Grande Valley veterans can be served.”
As part of this nationwide initiative to expand the VA’s mental health team, the regional VA health system treating Valley and Coastal Bend veterans has announced plans to increase its staff by 42 percent, adding 20 mental health clinicians and 4 support personnel. Currently, the regional system has 57 mental health employees at the region’s four clinics in Corpus Christi, Harlingen, Laredo and McAllen.
The Laredo VA Outpatient Clinic will add 4 new mental health personnel positions, and the McAllen VA Outpatient Clinic will add 6 new mental health personnel positions, increasing the ability of both clinics to serve South Texas veterans.
“I urge the VA to continue its efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of care available to veterans in the Rio Grande Valley area and to make sure that we are not falling short of our commitment to seeing that each and every veteran receives the support he or she has earned,” said Cuellar.
Nationwide, the VA plans to add a total of 1,600 mental health clinicians and 300 support staff members to its workforce. The additional employees are being added to help meet the increased demand for mental health services as a wave of soldiers returns from war. The department has launched an aggressive national recruitment effort to hire these mental health professionals led by a team of 21 recruiters who are themselves veterans.
The current VA workforce consists of 20,696 mental health staff workers, including psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.