Not enough psychiatrists for veterans

At San Diego VA, mental health patients have more than doubled since 2002 but staffing has lagged behind


By Jeanette Steele

Veterans Affairs clinics in San Diego have seen a dramatic rise in mental health patients, with an increase of more than two and a half times since 2002. But mental health staffing has lagged somewhat in growth and is now hobbled by a national psychiatrist shortage.

The San Diego VA is looking to boost by 25 percent its pool of psychiatrists — who oversee the prescription of drugs for patients with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, perhaps the signature wound of post-9/11 veterans.

Half of those hires would fill new positions created by Congress after nationwide concern over suicide among military veterans.

The others will cover jobs now empty because VA psychatrists were lured away by better pay elsewhere.

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