Addressing Mental Health Care for Veterans
In our Help for Our Heroes series, Vincent Immiti, FACHE, Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs, New Jersey Health Care System, addresses how the VA is serving the brave men and women from New Jersey, the latest in mental health for veterans.
"We are pleased to be joined, as part of our series looking at veterans issues, Vincent Immiti, who is the director of the Department of Veteran Affairs, New Jersey Healthcare System. Vincent, thank you for joining us. We just had a panel discussion here at the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, talking about the needs of veterans. Talk about your role in all this. Well, our new Secretary has got us really... The Secretary of? Of Veterans Affairs, has got us very excited about reaching out to veterans and providing those services to veterans they need, when they need them. So if we are going to provide veterans services they don't necessarily have to be at the medical center, or at one of our ten outpatient clinics. They may be at a community medical center, whatever the veteran needs, we are emphatic about getting that service provided for the veteran. Is it hard to access, and have veterans access, what you and your colleagues provide? Well we serve currently 47,000 veterans a year. 47,000 unique... In New Jersey? In New Jersey. Yes sir. 47,000? 47,000. What kinds of services are we talking about? We are a tertiary care medical center. We provide medicine, surgery, we have a very large psychiatric and mental health practice. We have long term care. We have residential care. All kinds of rehab therapy. Let's talk about the mental health issues. What are we talking about? PTSD. How does it manifest itself? It manifests itself with patients flashing back, generally, not being able to hold a job, oftentimes because they... there's a trigger that sets them off, and they have a very difficult time coming back into the community after their service. We are experts in PTSD and have been for many years. During 9/11, for example, we were called upon, the VA in general was called upon to help with post traumatic stress disorders from... with all the patients who were experiencing those kinds of symptoms in private industry. So we are expert in it. I am not a clinician, as far as mental health services are concerned, but we do have a very large cadre of both male and female services. Believe it or not, we actually have a PTSD unit specifically for female patients with PTSD. Why? Female patients have to be... I don't want to say segregated, because that's the wrong term. They have to be treated differently than males, because they have different issues. And oftentimes the male influence is what started their PTSD in the first place. Really? So having them separated helps them to heal, and helps them to become more... I don't want to say "healed"..."