Directors from the local VA held a rare press conference Thursday and no questions were off limits.
They said they are making benefit decisions much faster, upping telehealth services, expanding hours and staff. On average, veterans can get a primary care appointment in less than four days.
Directors said the wait time for a mental health care appointment is five days, which is half the wait time of the previous year.
If it is urgent, they have same-day services.
Perhaps, the new stat that matters most are the estimated 20 vets a day who take their own lives.
"Any veteran suicide is a tragedy," said Dr. Robert Smith, who is the acting directors of the Jolla VA Healthcare System.
I said the problem is not getting better, and I asked why.
"I think the number to reflect on may be the number of veteran suicides in those who are receiving care in the VA, which is substantially lower," Smith explained.
"One of the real issues with suicidality is people suffering in silence." a
Our local VA is unique in that it works with the coroner's office. We know the local vet suicide rate is below the national average. They also track vets who do take their lives to see what they could have done differently.
They are seeking those people out with new outreach programs and want you to know there are a number of options.
Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
You can learn more here: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/