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VA to add about 1,900 to mental health staff

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs says it’s increasing its staff of mental health workers by roughly 1,900.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced the plan Thursday, saying the government must make sure all veterans have adequate access to health care.

The department plans to add about 1,600 clinicians and about 300 support staff to an existing mental health staff of roughly 20,590. The department says it’ll begin recruiting immediately.

Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the announcement was a good start, but that the VA also needs to increase training of employees who deal with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Since 2007, the VA has experienced a 35 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving mental health services.

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