The issue hits close to home for the Maine Congressman, a Marine Veteran diagnosed with PTSD.
There are no more beds to sleep in at Togus, the VA Medical Center located in Chelsea, Maine, at least none that you can keep for more than a few nights.
“We’ve still got millions of vets that need that kind of care,” Commander Charlie Green said at a Monday town hall hosted by Rep. Jared Golden. “Why did Togus take that away and start spending millions of dollars on signs they don’t even need?”
That’s the same question the freshman Democrat from Maine has been asking and working on for months.
The lack of space at Togus means veterans are getting sent to Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts to recover, according to a Democratic aide. And being far away from their support systems back home makes recovery from mental health issues and substance abuse all the more challenging.
The issue hits close to home for Golden, a Marine who was diagnosed with PTSD when he returned from Iraq. He was treated in Lewiston, Maine.
“One thing that helped me was readjustment counseling, a term for mental health services that support veterans and their families as they transition to civilian life,” Golden said in a speech on the House floor.
At the town hall, Golden said he’s concerned that Togus doesn’t have the in-patient care for substance use or mental health issues.
“I’m actually working on a letter right now to tell (VA) services I don’t find that to be an acceptable outcome and that they need to hurry up and bring that back,” he said.
Golden sits on the Veteran’s Affairs Committee, where he’s been writing letters and has been working with the Maine delegation to address issues at Togus, including beds and exorbitantly long call wait times.
In July, Golden successfully passed a provision in the House to increase the amount of funding provided for long-term mental health care beds at VA facilities as part of an appropriations bill.
The bill, one of his first legislative success, includes cost-free child care for children during VA appointments