Highlights from the Nov. 1 commissioners meeting: Tough times for veterans

Here’s a list of highlights from the Nov. 1 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. We’ll have a full report in the Nov. 9 issue of Xpress.

Kevin Turner, supervisor of Buncombe County Veterans Services, updated commissioners on the problems facing veterans and the work of the department.

According to Turner’s presentation:

• In 2010, roughly 21,390 vets lived in Buncombe County. Only five counties in N.C. had more vets living there.

• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs spent more than $136 million in Buncombe County – more than in all but six other counties in the state.

• About 1,000 WWII vets die around the country every day.

• An average of 18 vets commit suicide every day. The rate of suicide among vets is over twice the rate of the rest of the population.

• 8 percent of the population are veterans, but 20 percent of the homeless population are veterans.

• Over 300,000 vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to suffer from mental health conditions; the lifetime treatment of those veterans is estimated to cost at least $660 billion (more than the direct costs of both wars combined).

• Some estimate that up to 35 percent of the 2 million vets who served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade could suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In other business, commissioners passed a pair of proclamations. They declared Nov. 13 “UNC–Asheville Bulldog Day” – the same day the university’s basketball team faces a tough challenge by the UNC–Chapel Hill Tarheels, one of the top ranked college basketball teams in the nation.

They also declared November “Adoption Awareness Month.”

According to the proclamation, there are currently 191 children in foster care in Buncombe County; the Department of Social Services is working to find permanent adopted homes for approximately 20 percent of them. Statewide, approximately 9,000 children live away from their birth parents.

The purpose of the proclamation, it states, is “to call attention to the fact that every child deserves to grow up in a loving, nurturing, permanent home and that this experience lays the foundation for a happy, productive adulthood. …During the month of November, Buncombe County Human Services, private adoption agencies, the faith community and local advocacy groups will participate in a statewide public awareness campaign around adoption.”

In addition, commissioners delayed the appointment of three applicants to the Buncombe County Planning Board until the Nov. 15 meeting.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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One thought on “Highlights from the Nov. 1 commissioners meeting: Tough times for veterans

  1. Marsha Hammond, PhD

    Psychologists provide mental health care to veterans. Exposure therapy/ desensitization is the treatment approved for treatment of PTSD, be they survivors of sexual/ physical/ emotional abuse or vets exposed to trauma. It takes a well trained mental health provider to enact this service. Indeed, the largest psychologist doctoral level internships in the US are associated w/ the VA System.

    Outpatient mental health care is provided, for the most part, by the insurer, Tricare. Trying to get onto the panel of Tricare, in order to work w/ veterans in western NC, is next to impossible even for a licensed doctoral level psychologist. They do not respond to queries; you get re-routed to various parts of the federal insurance system; endless e mails and queries go nowhere.

    If the feds want the vets to receive efficient, quality mental health care for PTSD, then Tricare needs to become a functional entity, like Medicare.

    Its sordid and frankly un-American to have former veterans as 20% of the homeless population.

    Get it together, Tricare, and stop making it impossible for professionals to work w/ veterans trying to recover from serving the country.

    Marsha V. Hammond, PhD, NC Lic Psychologist
    NC Mental health refor blogspot since 2007: http://madame-defarge.blogspot.com/

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