Friday, November 14, 2008

Rural W.Va. veterans a lot more likely than urban to have depression, post-traumatic stress disorder

Rural veterans in West Virginia returning from Iraq or Afghanistan are showing high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, according to a recent study. About 56 percent of vets in rural counties are facing mental-health problems, in contrast to only 32 percent in urban counties.

"We just do not have enough mental-health providers in rural areas," said Hilda Heady, associate vice president for rural health at West Virginia University, told Eric Eyre of The Charleston Gazette. "The military does an excellent job training these guys, getting them ready to go, but when these folks come back, we just don't have enough tools to help them."

Distance from Veterans Administration hospitals is only part of the problem. "The Department of Defense's managed-care TRICARE health insurance program won't reimburse doctors in some rural areas," Eyre writes. Heady told him support for recent vets in rural areas is crucial: "We need to be doing all we can to help the next generation of these vets and their family members know how to cope, how to get services and how to help each other." (Read more)

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