Long Wait For Mental Health Support At Oakland’s VA Office

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

CBS SF Bay (con't)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – There is outrage in the Bay Area over Thursday’s announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs that it’s increasing its staff of mental health workers by roughly 1,900 nationwide. The anger stems from what’s being described as a crippling and shameful backlog at the VA’s regional office in Oakland – an office that is apparently not included in the plans for mass hiring.

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 29,500. The department says it’ll begin recruiting immediately.

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

“My constituents are served by the Oakland regional office, which has one of the worst backlogs, second worst backlog record in the country,” House Veterans Affairs Committee member Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) testified at a hearing on the subject this week.

16 members of the Northern California congressional delegation have since endorsed a letter to Shinseki, criticizing the decision to leave the Oakland office out of the hiring plans.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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