VA announces recruitment effort to hire mental health professionals

BIG SPRING, TX – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has developed an aggressive national mental health hiring initiative to improve recruitment and hiring, marketing, education and training programs and retention efforts for mental health professionals.To speed the national hiring process, VA developed the Mental Health Hiring Initiative, a multi-faceted, sustained National marketing and outreach campaign that includes targeted recruitment of mental health providers willing to take positions throughout the country, including in rural and highly rural markets, to serve all VA medical Centers and community clinics.VA has an existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff that includes nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers. Currently, 51 mental health clinicians and support staff work locally to support Abilene, Big Spring, Odessa, San Angelo and Hobbs, New Mexico Veterans.Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki noted that “as the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to anticipate the needs of returning Veterans.”The team at West Texas VA Health Care System (WTVAHCS) is already actively treating Veterans through individualized care, readjustment counseling, and immediate crisis services. WTVAHCS staff has contributed to mental health excellence by expanding the residential treatment facility through the opening of the 40 bed Veterans Healing Center (Domiciliary) in 2011. Additionally in 2012, the Mental Health Services outpatient clinic has been fully remodeled in Big Spring to support increased space for additional services to our Veterans. New video conferencing equipment has been installed to expand services to outlying clinics in Abilene, San Angelo, Odessa and Hobbs.The initiative will help VA to meet existing and future demands of mental health care services in an integrated collaborative team environment and continue to position VA as an exemplary workplace for mental health care professionals.“Mental health services must be closely aligned with Veterans’ needs and fully integrated with health care facility operations,” said VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel. “Improving access to mental health services will help support the current and future Veterans who depend on VA for these vital services.”To locate the nearest VA facility or Vet Center for enrollment and to get scheduled for care, Veterans can visit VA’s website at Immediate help is available at or by calling the Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (push 1) or texting 838255.