As Juliette Kayyem points out, veterans need different options for health care services (“As veteran population changes, services must adapt,” Op-ed, July 23). While the veteran population is estimated to drop dramatically in the next 25 years, there are now and will continue to be numerous gaps between the services veterans need daily and the services available to them. These gaps — particularly those in the provision of behavioral health care services — need to be addressed now.
Along with strained resources, the centralized structure of the US Department of Veterans Affairs health care system can make it difficult for veterans to access the health services that they urgently need. Veterans today have lived through multiple deployments. They are facing high unemployment and suicide rates, and are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and other behavioral health disorders.
To better provide care to veterans facing these issues, there needs to be a shift, in the focus on funding a centralized VA system, to providing more localized, community-based behavioral health care services. With this, more attention needs to be brought to training community health care providers on how to address the ever-changing issues that our veterans face when returning to their homes.