November 28, 2007

SENATOR CARDIN APPLAUDS VA DECISION TO ALLOW FLEXIBILTY OF TREATMENT CHOICES FOR VETERANS WITH MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), today in a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), applauded the VA's decision to give veterans who need mental health services flexibility in where they receive their treatment.   The VA reversed an earlier decision that would have redirected outpatient services from Re-Entry Associates, Inc. in Cumberland to the Cumberland VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic. Veterans will now be able to receive services at either facility.   

 

"I commend the VA for its decision to give veterans who need mental health services flexibility in where to receive those services," said Senator Cardin. "It is important that veterans in Western Maryland have continuity of treatment, and I commend the VA for giving them a choice between the Re-Entry Associates Inc., and the Cumberland VA Outpatient Clinic.   Our goals should always be to ensure that our veterans get the most effective treatment possible by trusted professionals with whom they have developed a therapeutic relationship."

 

The text of Senator Cardin's letter to the VA is below:

 

The Honorable Gordon H. Mansfield

Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20420-0002

 

Dear Secretary Mansfield,

 

I am writing to applaud the Veterans Administration's (VA) decision to allow veterans in Western Maryland who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to continue to seek treatment either from their current provider - Re-Entry Associates - or the Cumberland VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) or both.

 

This summer and fall the VA sent letters to 94 veterans in Maryland advising them that their access to counseling at Re-Entry Associates, a private provider, would terminate. Many of these veterans had been participating in this program for decades and such a disruption in longstanding clinical relationships was both counterproductive and dangerous to their mental health.     I received distressed letters and phone calls from affected veterans, local veteran organizations, elected officials, and others in Western Maryland asking that the VA reconsider its decision to transfer services from the current provider, Re-Entry Associates, to the VA CBOC.   I passed many of these communications along to your department in hopes that the VA could reconsider its decision.

 

I am glad that the VA has listened to its clients -- the veterans -- and appreciates the depth and importance of the clinical relationships they have developed.   I look forward to working with you to ensure that these veterans, and all our veterans, continue to receive the most effective treatment from trusted professionals.

 

Best wishes.