By the Numbers - Nov. 25, 2013

By the Numbers - Nov. 25, 2013

2.6 million

The number of "veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters of the global war on terrorism" as of July 2013, according to a recently released study by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) -- Expanding the Net: Building Mental Health Care Capacity for Veterans. Citing the RAND Corporation's 2008 landmark report -- Invisible Wounds of War Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery -- the CNAS study indicated that "15 to 20 percent of these new combat veterans would come home with symptoms of PTSD or TBI (with significant overlap between these populations)."

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), nearly 900,000 Iraq and Afghanistan have sought care by the VA; 54% of these vets have been diagnosed with some sort of psychological disorder. 

The CNAS report cites a December 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office that "concluded that outpatient medical appointment wait times reported by the VA were 'unreliable,' and that scheduling problems impeded access to care and adversely affected patient satisfaction."

In a nutshell, to ameliorate the capacity problem, CNAS recommends that the VA should "rely more on the private sector and work more closely with local community and private philanthropic organizations."