For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2003
Arlington, VA — The Veterans Committee of NAMI, the Nation’s Voice on Mental Illness, testified today before the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission that lack of capacity and access to treatment represents "one of the greatest unmet needs" of the VA health system for military veterans with severe mental illnesses.
NAMI National Board member Roscoe Swann, a veteran of the Vietnam War with 30 years military service, warned the Commission that "Across the nation, the VA has undertaken elimination of critically needed services and supports for our most vulnerable veterans, yet there has not been an appropriate increase in community-based treatment and programs needed to address the needs of veterans."
"The VA should not make the same mistakes that so many states and communities have made over the past quarter century," Swann declared at the hearing, held in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.
"Decisions to close psychiatric services at one or more centers have frequently resulted in hardships for veterans trying to remain compliant with their outpatient regimen of appointments and medication," Swann warned. "The results are predictable—more frequent relapses and homelessness."
Swann’s testimony coincides with National Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), October 5-11.
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