(Photo: Flickr/ US Army Africa)

Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, informed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Tuesday that it may need to hire even more than the new 1,900 mental health positions it announced last month.

As The Washington Post reports, Shinseki made the comments at a hearing in response to a report from the VA’s inspector general detailing that the department has “greatly overstated” how quickly it provides mental health care for veterans.

“Our efforts will not cease with the announcement of the 1,900 additional personnel,” Shinseki said. “Future adjustments may be likely.”

The American Counseling Association is currently conducting an aggressive outreach campaign to various media markets to highlight the fact that the VA has been falling behind in its efforts to recruit and obtain all available mental health clinicians, specifically licensed professional counselors.

However, Shinseki said the plans for additional hires have planned for months and were not in response to the report.

“We will continue to review and monitor our facilities and veterans’ feedback so that we can make other adjustments that are needed,” he said.

Additionally, concerning statistics from the Pentagon reveal that 154 active-duty troops committed suicide in the first 155 days of this year.  As The Associated Press reports, during the same period last year, there were 130 suicides.

“It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,” Stephen N. Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired Army general, told the AP in an interview. “We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.”

Sources: The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Atlantic Wire

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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