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New VA plans seek to give mental health benefits to all vets

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced a plan that would implement a White House executive order focusing on improved mental health resources for United States military veterans. Under the plan, service personnel would become eligible for mental health veterans' benefits upon their discharge from the military. David Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, said the plan would be sent to the White House for executive approval before it is implemented.

Concurrent with the introduction of its new plan, the VA announced a mental health initiative called HEAL - health care, evaluation, advocacy and legislation. A congressionally-chartered vet service group, AMVETS, will spearhead the HEAL initiative, which will ensure that vets have access to a clinician who can help smooth the way as they navigate the VA health care system. One of HEAL's first undertakings was to hire a chief medical executive.

According to the CME, Lana McKenzie, HEAL will focus initially on vets who have suffered a traumatic brain injury and veterans who are at a higher risk for suicide. These issues pose the greatest mental health challenges for vets. According to HEAL, more than 300,000 vets received a TBI of some form or another during their service and 20 veterans die by their own hand on a daily basis. These new plans seek to get these vets the help and benefits they need.

Navigating the VA benefits process is not always simple. What one may expect to be a relatively simple application and acceptance can turn into a quagmire of delayed responses and red tape, which can be particularly frustrating for recently-returned vets who are just trying to get the assistance they earned in service to their country. A seasoned attorney with experience in veterans' issues can help guide vets through the benefits process and overcome obstacles they may encounter.

Source: ABC News, "VA plan would give every service member mental health benefits after leaving military," Kandis Mascall, Mar. 6, 2018

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