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The cost of a question as VA plans mental care for discharged vets

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announces new efforts to expand emergency mental health care of thousands of former service members with a less-than-honorable discharges. But he is also acknowledging his department is not looking for extra money to pay for it.

Testify during a hearing of the House, Shulkin offered new details about its initiative, announced in March stem persistently high rates of suicide.

There are more than 500,000 former service members with an other-than-honorable discharges. Still, Shulkin indicated there will not be a lot of extra expenditure to pay for the medications, lab work, case management, psycho-education and psychotherapy are now covered.

He says that the plan is to provide services “within our existing resources,” without specifying what other programs may be cut.

It was one of several gaps in the VA’s proposed budget, which Shulkin acknowledged Wednesday.

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