Soldier during counseling session


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There is virtually no industry that has been unaffected by staffing shortages in recent years, and Veterans Affairs Vet Centers are no exception. To bridge the gap in staffing, the VA will begin awarding scholarships as part of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 to mental health care college students who agree to work for the department once they graduate.

The award will cover two years of graduate studies for students studying mental health care and in exchange, students will work at a VA Vet Center for at least six years once they graduate, prioritizing underserved communities in need of mental health professionals, according to VA officials. “These scholarships will help VA ensure all veterans and service members — including those in historically underserved areas — have access to Vet Centers with highly qualified, trained and compassionate staff,"  VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement. 

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There are 300 VA Vet Centers scattered across the country, serving some 286,000 veterans and their families. The community-based centers provide myriad services from job placement assistance to counseling. An August study published in the National Library of Medicine revealed an expected 31,000 psychiatry vacancies by 2024. The first five scholarships will be awarded next year. More information can be found on the Federal Register website.

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