All week we've been talking about the tragedy that happened at the naval base in Washington. And one of the major topics has been the issue of veterans who suffer from mental illnesses. 5 News wanted to talk to doctors to really get an understanding of how veterans are helped.
Doctors over at the VA Hospital couldn't say anything about the shooting in DC, but they did tell me about the type of mental illnesses they deal with and how they treat them on a daily basis.
They deal with a wide variety of illnesses but the main ones are post traumatic stress disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. They have three different clinics for veterans: the outreach clinic so people can come and go, the inpatient which is temporary for patients, and residential where they live. Each patient is treated differently based on how serious there illness is. But they all start with an evaluation and usually end with some type of therapy, whether it's individual or group. Hospital officials say they're constantly growing and expanding to help their patients.
"We have expanded our program. We have expanded the number of providers, the number of therapies, and procedures that we offer. I think that this VA is unique in that it offers a very wide range of treatments for a variety of psychiatric illnesses. Something that's typically only found in larger centers," said Dr. Joel Vogt.
These hospitals are funded by the government. Doctors say they do what they can with what they have but more is always better.
"As a psychiatrist I'm always in favor of more funding and more help for a patient with mental illness. Whether that's through a VA Hospital or a community hospital, I think anything that we can do to provide more and better service to the numerous amount of people in the country who have mental illnesses I think it's better," said Dr. Vogt.
The VA Hospital recently got funding to put more people on their staff to help veterans in our area.