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Data System Improvement Urged to Improve Veterans’ Mental Health Counselling

Vet centers review

Data System Improvement Urged to Improve Veterans’ Mental Health Counselling

Veterans seeking mental health services for readjustment to civilian life are relying on services from vet centers that still lack the key systems and access to the data needed for their outreach activities, officials from the Government Accountability Office and Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General officials told a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday. 

The government watchdogs said that the centers the Veterans Health Administration contracted for veterans’ counseling are non-compliant with established procedures and have not fully resolved previous concerns, Nextgov/FCW reported Friday

According to Julie Kroviak, principal deputy assistant inspector general in the VA OIG’s office of healthcare inspections, their reviews showed that the processes’ noncompliance was most notable in the procedural assessments of veterans’ suicide risk. Other systemic failures were noted in staff training and center personnel supervision, she added. 

Sharon Silas, GAO’s health care director, informed the Senate committee that the data factored into the vet centers’ outreach activities could be improved through such guidance as metrics and targets for assessment of outreach activities’ effectiveness.

A VHA software solution for the data need is now being developed in partnership with the VA’s Office of Information Technology to open the Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense Identity Repository for demographic information on veterans transitioning from active service, Silas disclosed.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said during the hearing that he is planning to file legislation to create VetPAC, an organization to help Congress better understand the VA’s procedures on addressing veterans’ issues like mental health and suicide prevention.

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Category: Federal Civilian

Tags: Department of Veterans Affairs federal civilian Government Accountability Office Julie Kroviak Nextgov/FCW Senate Sharon Silas