Mental Health

VA Chief: Culture Change Needed to Help Combat Vets Suicides

Secretary Robert Wilkie, on a recent visit to Philly, said it’s important to recognize signs of mental illness while service members are on active duty.

After combat, it’s common for veterans to suffer chronic pain. But now that doctors have a clearer understanding of the risks of addictive painkillers, they are wary of relying on opioids to relieve it. Plus, veterans suffer from addiction at higher rates than the general population.

On a recent trip to Philadelphia, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie visited the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz Outpatient Clinic in West Philly to see how it’s offering non-opioid treatment for those with chronic pain, and how it’s treating veterans with substance use disorder.

“So for people like my father, it would have been anathema to think about acupuncture and tai chi and yoga, but that’s what we’re doing,” said Wilkie, whose father served in the Vietnam War. “The culture is changing, and along with that, people are doing better.”

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