Mental Health Care Providers For Veterans At All-Time High


There are more mental health care providers for veterans than ever before – not only nationally, but in Wisconsin – following recent hires.

When Dr. Dean Krahn began working at the Madison VA more than 20 years ago, there were seven mental health care professionals. Now, he’s the chief of mental health services and because of federal changes, there are 130 mental health staff. He says they’re treating homelessness, posttraumatic stress disorder, and addiction.

“We have a much fuller spectrum of care than we did say ten years ago or even five years ago.”

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Some of the latest efforts from the VA include an executive order to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals nationwide. Wisconsin’s VA hospitals in Tomah, Madison, and Milwaukee combined have recently filled 21 new mental health care positions.

Krahn says they’re also providing more tele-mental health care through video and computers at remote sites. That will soon be coming to veterans’ homes.

“Gee, if I can just be sitting at my own desk having a cup of coffee at home, I guess I would favor that treatment over coming through the snow and rain and getting to Dr. Krahn’s office only to find he’s 10 minutes late.”

Dr. David Skripka is a psychiatrist and the Tomah VA’s associate chief of staff for mental health. He says with the additional staff, wait times should drop for veterans seeking care.

“A single psychiatrist being added can help with veterans getting in more quickly for their initial appointment and more importantly when they get established with a psychiatrist, being able to see them on a regular basis.”

Skripka says they hope more veterans will seek mental health care.

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