U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) participated in a U.S. Senate Veterans Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, focusing on access to and the quality of mental health care for veterans provided by the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA). On Tuesday, the VA announced its plans to expand its mental health services, to include
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) and Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselors (LPMHCs) -- as a result of then-Congressman Moran's legislation in 2006, authorizing the VA to hire these two additional groups of providers.
"I was pleased to hear the VA announce its plans to hire 1,900 mental health workers. I was additionally pleased with the announcement yesterday that family therapists and licensed professional mental health counselors will be included in this hiring," Sen. Moran said during the hearing. "My discouragement is how long it took for the VA to implement this. Coming from a state as rural as Kansas, our access to mental health professionals is more limited than urban states. We need to take advantage of the wide array of professional services that are available at every opportunity."
In December 2006, Congress passed the Veterans Benefits, Health Care and Information Technology Act, which included legislation then-Congressman Moran introduced to give veterans access to a full range of qualified mental health providers, including MFTs and LPMHCs. Previously, only privately insured individuals and active duty personnel had access to this type of care.
MFTs and LPMHCs will play a critical role in the VA health system, diagnosing and treating disorders commonly faced by the veteran population, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. This is especially important given the increased number of veterans returning from combat who are seeking mental health services.