New mental health facility at V. A.

Amarillo, Texas

Larry Lemmons

Panhandle veterans returning home from combat will soon have more options if they're suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The Amarillo V.A. Healthcare System is breaking ground Tuesday to mark the start of construction of a new facility.

The 6.2 million dollar building will be devoted exclusively to mental health.

This approach by the V.A. is a departure from past eras when vets would return to the civilian world with little or no attempt to help them cope with their war experience.

Mark Lambert, MD, Chief of Mental Health at the Amarillo V.A. says, "There are about a quarter to a third of people who are in serious combat come back with some type of stress disorder. And there are associated problems. This is a very big problem if we don't have facilities, staff and programs to treat these veterans."

The associated problems can be alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, family conflict and, some some cases, suicide.

Dr. Lambert says there has always been a stigma attached to getting help, but new and more effective treatments help alleviate that problem.  He says vets of all wars will have access to the treatments.