Five Years into Iraq War More California Veterans Seeking Health Care

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dr. Brian O’Neill is the director of the VA Northern California Health Care System. He says of the roughly 80,000 Iraq and Afghanistan vets living in California about a third get VA health care.

O’Neill says their most common health problems are Traumatic Brain Injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and mental illness, like depression.

O’Neill: “One of the big challenges that we’re experiencing is being able to recruit the skilled health care workers that we need, particularly in mental health.”

O’Neill says since the war began the demand for VA health care is almost doubling each year. But he says it’s a policy for returning vets seeking care to get it within a month or on the same day for emergencies.

However the group Veterans for Common Sense says that’s not the reality. It filed a class action lawsuit against the VA system claiming vets are waiting months for care which in turn is delaying compensation for their injuries.