The American Counseling Association regularly receives reports from members claiming local VA personnel are unaware that counselors can be hired by the VA. Other members say local VA personnel simply will not hire counselors. Based on these allegations, it is clear the VA may have no real standard operating procedure. Local VA staff seem to operate with impunity, as if no one will ever hold them accountable for their actions.
The VA, the administration and Congress have some difficult situations to face and some difficult decisions to make. Among them: Will they finally force the VA to implement aggressive measures such as hiring LPCs to shore up mental health services? Will the VA implement a plan to ensure that its local leaders are adhering to federal laws and finally putting the care of our veterans first?
As a society, we cannot ignore the grim reality that our veterans are surviving the battlefield only to die at home from neglect.
Art Terrazas is the director of government affairs at the American Counseling Association. He previously served as a legislative assistant in on Capitol Hill focusing on veterans’ and military issues.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.