Good news for veterans who may have received less than honorable discharges from the military, but still need mental health services.
That help may be coming shortly.
This, from Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin, who testified Tuesday before the House Veterans Affairs committee.
The news comes just four months after WKYC participated in a nationwide investigation called Charlie Foxtrot looking into this very issue.
It's estimated that 20 to 22 veterans commit suicide every day. The Charlie Foxtrot investigation found that since 9/11, 300,000 troops were booted from service with less than honorable discharges. The reasons often linked to mental health conditions such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or suicide attempts.
They were stripped of their medical benefits when they needed them most.
"There is no other clinical issue that has my concern or attention than veteran suicide," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin on Tuesday night.
In the military, 'Charlie Foxtrot' stands for disaster.
Shulkin told the House Veteran Affairs committee something veterans advocates have been fighting for for more than a decade. "We are going to start providing mental health care for those that are other than honorably discharged for urgent mental health," he stated.
Shulkin says veterans shouldn't have to wait for congressional intervention. He hopes the new offerings will be available within a few months with instructions for individual hospitals on outreach and urgent care treatment options for those veterans.
Veterans who were once told they could not get help because of their discharge status, can now have hope.
The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center is one of three facilities in the U.S. that offer a combined PTSD and substance abuse treatment.
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