Can VA chaplains help fill the gap of too few mental health workers?

Most, or perhaps all VA hospitals, employ VA chaplains and have a chapel. This one at the Baltimore VA is an uplifting space.  Chaplains are trained to work with all faiths in addition to their connection to their home denomination laypeople.  A long list of chaplains by state is here (Link);  they are either part-time, full-time, intermittent or fee-based providers.  

One can easily see that most veterans are under-served by VA chaplains but VA is starting to address this (link) with free training for volunteer clergy.  If you have time to read about this, this is a good page to start (link). Webinars are here: (link).

Many chaplains have advanced training in mental health fields and this seems like a whole untapped group of caring people that could help support those thinking about suicide, divorce, addiction or  so many other sad thoughts and problems.   

New spiritual guidelines are needed according to a 2016 OIG report (link).  It deals with these issues:

  • Ensuring every patient’s constitutional right to free exercise of religion
  •  Protecting veterans from the imposition of religious beliefs or activities
  • Allowing holiday displays to be placed in public areas at VHA facilities

This is very important but I do think VA chaplains could do a lot of extra good tasks–now.  Any experiences with VA chaplains to share?

About Laura

NW Vermont.
This entry was posted in All about Veterans, Food for the soul, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, Uncategorized, VA Health Care. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Can VA chaplains help fill the gap of too few mental health workers?

  1. john king says:

    Yes, they should be paid. If it is based on some kind of charity you get what you pay for I think.
    You know there are so services you can get (few) based on disability or age that are worthwhile that most people don’t know about. For instance I can get Legal Aide due to age and they don’t even consider income. I was astounded since I officially have income that puts me way above most programs. This is a local program in Florida. Every state has programs like this that are free. The VA is very tight regarding anything besides direct medical. I asked for some items and to get them I would need to be a paraplegic or amputee. The VA would wait until I fall in the bathtub and then have me in a hospital spending thousands and maybe months in a nursing home.

  2. john king says:

    They just need to lay off the preaching. I don’t mind talking to a chaplain, but I don’t want to be born again. Once is just fine.

    • Kiedove says:

      I hear you. Certainly they can preach when conducting services as part of their tasks, but running an addiction support group, or grief group, if trained, is something beneficial. I think a well trained chaplain/mental health chaplain should be paid however.

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