Mental Health

Post 13 of 19

The state of California has the largest population of veterans of the armed forces in the nation. There are an estimated 2,078,267 veterans in California. Boosting California’s veteran population are the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom—OEF) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom—OIF). Since September 2001, California deployed 148,028 troops, with 22,305 troops from California deployed as of February 29, 2008. The number of National Guard and Reserve Troops deployed from California since September 2001 is an estimated 31,821.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment in the VA

The Veterans Administration (VA) offers a range of treatments and services to improve the mental health of Veterans. For Veterans with serious mental illness, VA offers care is tailored to help with their specific problem and to promote recovery. Care can include schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders (drugs or alcohol, or illegal substances). For more information on mental health care, including substance use disorder, download the Guide to VA Mental Health Services.

With the increased veteran population comes the added need for more accessible alcohol and other drugs (AOD) services for those with, and at risk for, substance abuse disorders. Veterans returning home from OEF and OIF present a larger incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and associated substance abuse than those from any previous conflicts. Research indicates that up to 30 percent of OEF/ OIF veterans are diagnosed with PTSD. Mental health issues, in particular those with co-occurring substance abuse disorders, are not easily diagnosed and often surface long after the service member’s post-deployment coverage and eligibility for health care ends.

Recently, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) expanded benefits for the National Guard and Reserve members. Veterans that deploy and return with any type of mental or physical health condition may receive up to 5 years of treatment either free or with co-pay. Substance abuse, PTSD, and TBI are treated free of charge.

There are, however, some factors that may present barriers to service members in need of services. One reason is the VA has a major challenge with providing VA benefits. Currently, there is an untreated backlog of 400,000 cases. In addition, treatment facilities may be located very far from veterans’ homes, making it logistically challenging to access services.


ADP will be posting information on the following veteran issues:

·         Post-Deployment Stress

·         Traumatic Brain Injury

·         Substance Abuse

·         Family Issues


  • More than 100,000 combat veterans sought help for mental illness since the start of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, and about one in seven of those have left active duty since then, according to VA records collected through 2007. Almost one-half of those were PTSD cases.
  • Mental health cases among war veterans, including PTSD, drug and alcohol dependency and depression, grew by 58 percent from 63,767 in 2006 to 100,580 in 2007, VA records show.
  • A study released in 2007 stated that of 103,788 Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans seen at VA health care facilities, 25,658 (25 percent) received mental health diagnoses; 56 percent of whom had two or more distinct mental health diagnoses.
  • Overall, 32,010 (31 percent) of veterans in the same study received mental health and/or psychosocial diagnoses. The youngest group of OEF/OIF veterans (aged 18-24 years) were at greatest risk for receiving mental health or posttraumatic stress disorder diagnoses compared with veterans 40 years or older.
  • In 2003, an estimated 56.6 percent of veterans used alcohol in the past month compared with 50.8 percent of comparable nonveterans. An estimated 13.2 percent of veterans reported driving while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year compared with 12.2 percent of comparable nonveterans. Daily cigarette use was more common among veterans, with an estimated 18.8 percent smoking cigarettes daily in the past month compared with 14.3 percent of comparable nonveterans.
  • In 2002/2003, an estimated 1.2 million male veterans were identified as living with serious mental illness. Approximately 340,000 of these individuals had co-occurring substance abuse disorders. Approximately 209,000 female veterans (13.1 percent) reported serious mental illness, and 25,000 (1.6 percent) reported co-occurring substance use disorder with mental illness.


The Sergeant Sullivan Center
The Sergeant Sullivan Center offers helpful information and resources for assisting post-deployed with guidance on their health care issues, including mental health care.
Department of Defense (DoD) Develops Compensation and Benefits Handbook
The Compensation and Benefits Handbook is the one source of information that covers everything a seriously ill or injured service member will need during his or her recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, including information on mental health treatment.
NAMI Information on Medications
General information and fact sheets for specific medications.
NAMI Information on Bipolar Disorder
NAMI information on bipolar disorder.
NAMI Information on Schizophrenia
NAMI information on schizophrenia.
NAMI Information on Depression
NAMI information on depression.
NAMI Information on Dual Diagnosis and Treatment
NAMI information on dual diagnosis and treatment.
NAMI Information on Mental Illness
NAMI information on mental illness.
More Resources…


News and Media
Study Shows One in Five U.S. Veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan Has PTSD
According to the latest Pentagon study, released in April 2010, nearly 20 percent—or one in five returning war veterans—reported symptoms of PTSD or major depression. The study also reports that approximately one-half of them sought treatment.
Major Depressive Episode and Treatment for Depression among Veterans Aged 21-39
Recent research indicates that an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reported symptoms of a mental disorder or cognitive condition. Untreated mental health problems can result in long-term negative consequences for the affected individuals, their families, their communities and our nation as a whole.
Clarence Jordan’s Remarks at Press Conference
NAMI Board member Clarence Jordan presents remarks at APA Press Conference on mental health and veterans, April 30, 2008.
Wounds of War
A study showed that almost 300,000 in the armed forces were affected by mental illness in 2008.
Military Attitudes Towards Mental Illness
In 2007 NAMI protested the U.S. Army’s treatment of 1st Lieutenant Elizabeth Whiteside, who was going to be court-martialed endangering another soldier and turning a gun on herself in a suicide attempt during a psychiatric breakdown.
More News & Media…


Research Studies
Research Studies of Veterans Living with SchizophreniaThe Model Schizophrenia Program is a mental health-focused treatment team, conducting clinical research directly applicable to the veteran population that it serves.

The TURNS program is a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-supported network that will provide an infrastructure for clinical studies of pharmacological agents for enhancing neurocognition in patients living with schizophrenia. This initiative includes clinical studies of pharmacological agents for enhancing neurocognition in patients living with schizophrenia.

Research Studies of Veterans Living with Bipolar DisorderPromising New Treatment Model for Bipolar Disorder Tested on Veterans
A new three-year study, lead by Providence Veterans Affairs Medical center and Brown Medical School, on a new and cost effective treatment model for bipolar disorder was tested on over 300 veterans.

Gaps in Quality of Care for the Care of Bipolar Disorder in the VA
A study concluded in 2006 found that some patient factors were related to gaps in quality of care for veterans living with bipolar disorder. The most significant were low medication insight, binge drinking and difficulty accessing psychiatric care.