Saturday, April 28, 2018

PTSD program move, "sly attempt to leave the Waco VA"

VA plans to move popular Waco PTSD program despite loud opposition
American Statesman
Jeremy Schwartz
April 27, 2018
One veteran, who recently went through an inpatient treatment program at the domiciliary, called the proposed move a bad idea. “There are a ton of different people in the dom for a ton of different reasons,” said the veteran, who requested anonymity because he is still enrolled in the Waco PTSD program. “That type of environment is not conducive to what the Waco program is doing. The environment here is quiet. You’ve got all these different options to ground yourself.”

Nurse Reginia Salisbery, right, checks on a resident at the Women’s Trauma Recovery Center at the domiciliary at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care Center in Temple on Monday. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

VA plans to move PTSD program from Waco to its domiciliary in Temple, which has a checkered history.

The relocation would allow the VA to move a women’s military sexual trauma program out of the domiciliary.

In 2012, VA reviewed allegations of drug use, prostitution, gang activity and gambling at the Temple facility.

Despite outcry from lawmakers and veterans groups, the Department of Veterans Affairs is pushing forward on a controversial plan to move a highly regarded residential post-traumatic stress disorder program from its Waco campus to the VA’s Temple campus.

A similar plan was shut down two years ago in the face of congressional opposition, and U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, a Republican who represents the Waco area, has vowed to stop the change this time too, potentially by blocking funding for the move.

Local VA leaders say the move will save taxpayers $1.5 million per year by enrolling patients into inpatient substance abuse treatment alongside their PTSD therapy, reducing relapses and the need for future treatment.

But the proposed new location for the residential program has set off alarm bells among advocates. VA leaders are seeking to fold the PTSD program into the VA’s domiciliary on its Temple campus, a facility with a difficult history. The domiciliary, part of a network of similar facilities established across the country over a century ago, is home to a mix of at-risk populations, including chronically homeless veterans, veterans trying to quit drugs and veterans undergoing court-ordered therapy.
In a recent editorial in the Waco Tribune-Herald, Hernandez called the planned move part of “the federal bureaucracy’s sly attempt to leave the Waco VA campus vulnerable to closure if discussions of underperforming VA campus closures begin again, just as we witnessed some 15 years ago.”
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