President Obama Signs Executive Order to Expand Veterans’ Access to Treatment Services

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

American FlagOn August 31, President Obama signed an executive order well-defined by its title: “Improving Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members and Military Families.”

Announced by the president at Fort Bliss in Texas, where he was commemorating the two-year anniversary of the end of combat in Iraq, the primary purpose of the order is to reduce the unacceptably high suicide rate among veterans and active duty personnel. According to ABC news, there have been at least 116 Army suicides in 2012.

“We may be turning a page on a decade of war, but America’s responsibilities to you have only just begun,” the Washington Post quotes President Obama telling the crowd at Fort Bliss.

To help meet those responsibilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs in partnership with other key agencies has been charged with hiring more mental health professionals and peer counselors, and entering into pilot projects with community based organizations – including substance abuse treatment providers. The goal is to expand services and reduce wait times, particularly for those in crisis.

The executive order also establishes the Military and Veterans Mental Health Interagency Task Force; members include the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. One of the group’s roles will be to offer guidance on how to improve substance abuse treatment services.

Phoenix House is dedicated to serving veterans, service members, and their families through our Military Services Programs. We encourage you to read the full text of the executive order here .

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  • Carol Kellerhals

    I have a roommate that suffers from PTSD from the Iran Contra. He says he is not able to get veterans benefits because of this “secret war”.

    I watch him suffer, almost nightly, with war dreams. Some of them last for hours, and, he shows me the torture he went through. I cannot wake him up.

    Where can he get help and the benefits he deserves?

    We live in Phoenix and I need to help him find some help.

    He also suffers from cerebral anachroidnitis and is on many meds for this pain.

    He went to a local hospital for pancreatitis, and, came home without his top and bottom front teeth. They refuse to fix them.

    Please help him. He was a 20 yr RN, air evac, paramedic teacher. He is slipping away with all this stress and inability to get help.

    His name is Kevin Davidson. Please let me know what information you need.

    My company I work for is closing the end of this month, and, he has been unable to pay any rent to me for the last 6 months stay. We may both be homeless. His meds, insurance, vehicle, take all of his monies. Plus, he is going through a divorce.

    Thank you.


  • eedelman

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks so much for reaching out–taking that first step and asking for help is so important! Unfortunately we do not currently have any locations in Arizona. However, if you’d be interested in traveling to one of our other locations nationwide (Texas or California, for example) we’d be more than happy to put you in touch with a clinician / admissions counselor. You can find a complete list of Phoenix House treatment facilities here:
    We look forward to hearing from you!