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Mental health for veterans--Tucson VA connecting vets with help in---and out of the hospital

Craig Smith

Congressman Ron Barber says he's working on mental health bills to improve care for veterans, and the general public

Mental health for veterans--Tucson VA connecting vets with help in---and out of the hospital

By Craig Smith. CREATED Aug 14, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The war is not over for some military veterans.  They still fight mental illness.  Now the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital is working to help community mental health organizations---and the V-A pull together to give troubled vets better mental health care.

Better protective gear and fast, advanced treatment are helping more troops survive their battles, only to live a life at war with their wounded minds.
     
As veterans, some sink into homelessness, alcohol, and drug abuse. 
     
Now the Tucson VA hospital is working to connect VA resources, with mental health services in the community that may not have even known they can pull together.

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Dr. Timothy Mueller of the Tucson VA: "I wonder if people who are active duty resist saying maybe I need some emotional help or maybe once they're out as veterans the same thing happens."

Dr. Mueller said: "I think you're exactly right.  The military's not immune from what you just described.  There's a lot of stigma in our society as a whole to view mental illness as a personal failing or some sort of weakness."
       
Jared Loughner is not a veteran.  His mental illness was not treated until after he killed six people and wounded 14----including now Congressman Ron Barber.  Even before the shooting Barber pushed for better mental health care.
      
Now he's working to get Congress to restore some of the billions of dollars cut from mental health budgets.

He says: "We know virtually all of the people involved in those shootings had mental illness, sometimes undiagnosed, sometimes untreated, sometimes both.  We need mental health services for the public at large not only for veterans although veterans are a high priority with me."
        
In Tucson, the V-A Hospital says it has what it needs to treat troubled vets.  It's just a matter of connecting former warriors with the help they need to make peace with their minds.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press