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Chief underscores need for mental health support for war vets: John Furgess is honored for his work on behalf of veterans.

Commander-in-Chief John Furgess was welcomed home to Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 16-19. Highlighting that celebration was a banquet featuring VA Secretary Anthony Principi who addressed a critical issue: the emotional toll of war.

Although mental health matters are not new to veterans, Furgess said it's something vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are going to need help with.

"They are long-standing issues," he said. "Now the challenge is to get those veterans who need the help to come in and get it."

Noting that psychological care is a "critical core component to what the VA does," Principi said it will take good outreach efforts to get the vets to seek assistance. He added that getting veterans to a facility would require teamwork.

"The VFW can help us identify these people," Principi said. "What we do, it's a partnership effort between my department, the VFW and all of the other service organizations. Those organizations can help us figure out who is nee need of these services."

Of the 168,000 service members who had served in Iraq and been discharged as of July 22, about 28,000 had sought medical care from the VA, according to recent VA statistics. About 5,400, or nearly 20%, of those had mental health issues. Approximately one in three of the vets suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. A recent study cites that up to 65% of GIs with PTSD will refuse to seek treatment to protect their public, image.

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Title Annotation:VFW in action: VFW members and Posts demonstrating community service.
Publication:VFW Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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