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Veterans Cut Ribbon on New Mental Health Outpatient Building

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City cut the ribbon Friday on its new Mental Health Outpatient Building.  As troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, VA officials say the number of combat troops seeking help is growing. 

Steve Young is the Director of Mental Health Services for the VA in Salt Lake City.  He says the building they’ve been operating in for 20 years is basically a bunch of old trailers without wheels.

“Now we are finally in this building that’s physical quality matches the quality of care that these phenomenal mental health professional deliver every single day to the most deserving of America’s citizens,” said Young.

Vietnam veteran Craig Shipley says mental health services are essential, though combat vets don’t always realize it. 

“I pray that all veterans seek the help they need,” said Shipley, “Most veterans are stubborn to do so.  I certainly was for many, many years, until I reached a point where I had a gun to my head.”

Shipley says he suffered from PTSD, which led him to alcohol and drug abuse, and finally to the brink of suicide, before he came to the VA for help. 

“I realized that somebody else cared, and this system that has been presented here for me and all other vets, it saves lives,” said Shipley.

Last year the VA Mental Health staff treated 11,500 veterans – a 3 percent increase from the previous year.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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