New VA initiative aims to improve hiring of mental health professionals

| July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

VA Pacific Islands Health Care System
Department of Veterans Affairs



HONOLULU — The Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, has developed an aggressive national mental health hiring initiative to improve recruitment and hiring, marketing, education and training programs, and retention efforts for mental health professionals.

To expedite the national hiring process, VA developed the Mental Health Hiring Initiative, a multifaceted, sustained national marketing and outreach campaign that includes targeted recruitment of mental health providers willing to take positions throughout the country, including in rural and highly rural markets, to serve all VA medical centers and community clinics.

The initiative will help VA meet existing and future demands of mental health care services in an integrated collaborative team environment and continue to position VA as an exemplary workplace for mental health care professionals while considering short- and long-term planning and needs of veterans.

“As the tide of war recedes, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to anticipate the needs of returning veterans,” said Eric Shinseki, VA secretary.

Although a national shortage of mental health providers across the country is prevalent, the VA has an existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff, which includes nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.

Approximately 190 mental health clinicians work locally supporting veterans within the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, or VA PIHCS, covering a 2.6 million-mile service area that includes the Hawaiian Islands, Guam, Saipan and American Samoa.

VA PIHCS also offers various telemental health programs, at all sites, as needed, to support veterans.

Health Care Statistics
The local VA Pacific Islands Health Care System currently has 37.5 core mental health program vacancies:
•Psychiatrists, 2
•Clinical nurse specialists/nurse practioner, 7
•Psychologists, 8
•Social workers, 11
•RNs/LPNs, 6.5
•Peer counselor, 1
•Occupational Therapist, 1
•Psychiatric nursing assistant, 1

Difficult-to-recruit locations/positions include the following:
•Guam, for clinical nursespecialist, social worker
•American Samoa, for clinica nurse specialist, social worker,psychiatrist
•Hilo, for clinical nurse specialist

On the Web

To locate the nearest VA facility or veterans center for enrollment and to get scheduled for care, visit

Perspective employees should review job announcements at the USA Jobs website,

Veterans can get immediate help by calling the Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255, push 1; by texting 838255; or by visiting


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