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Troops are still waiting weeks for off-base mental health appointments

February 7, 2024

Meghann Myers

Military Times

A new government watchdog report warns troops are waiting too long for off-base mental health services. (DOD)

By Meghann Myers, Military Times / February 7, 2024

The military health system has a major shortage of behavioral health providers, which often sends service members off base to seek care from civilian providers as they wait for spots to open up at a military treatment facility.

But the Defense Health Agency doesn’t track whether service members in crisis are receiving timely care out in town, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Tuesday, making it impossible to ensure that troops are getting the help they need or to fix any issues they have with obtaining care.

“Military service may carry a psychological cost for active-duty service members,” according to the report, which cites research showing that mental health diagnoses among troops quadrupled between 2005 and 2021. “If left untreated, such conditions can affect deployment readiness, among other negative consequences.”

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