VA will add counselors for prevention of suicides
: With all the attention being placed on the mental health of our returning troops, what is the Department of Veterans Affairs doing about suicide prevention?
Answer: The VA plans to hire 100 suicide prevention counselors at each of its 153 medical centers. The new suicide prevention counselors will join the 9,000 mental health professionals already employed by VA.
The VA spends nearly $3 billion a year for mental health services. About 1 million VA patients have a mental health diagnosis.
The VA will host a special four-day forum next month to review all its mental health programs. For additional information on Mental Health services at the VA Medical Center, call 433-0600.
Q: Does the VA recognize a veteran's desire to have a living will or other documents that summarize wishes for health care?
A: The VA affirms the patient's right to make decisions regarding his or her medical care, including the decision to discontinue treatment, to the extent permitted by law.
Each patient has a right to complete a form known as an "advance directive," a written statement that the patient completes in advance of serious illness about which medical decisions he or she wants made in the event the veteran can no longer make his or her wishes known.
The two most common forms of advance directives are a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. The document, if the veteran chooses to create one, will be maintained as part of medical record and will be reviewed periodically with the veteran or surrogate decision-maker.
For more information on advance directives, call the VA Medical Center at 433-0600.
If you have questions about your benefits as a veteran, call Fred Ballard at the Veterans Affairs at 433-0049 or visit the VA Web site at www.va.gov/hawaii
or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.