Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Smith, Laurie


The goal of this research was to identify the challenges U.S. Veterans faced when accessing mental health services within the Veterans Affairs (V.A.) Healthcare System. The V.A. serves approximately six million U.S. military veterans annually and is considered a leader in providing high-quality care in the USA. Despite the V.A.'s efforts to improve its patient care system, many veterans do not seek treatment or follow through with mental health services. The study found that participants had difficulty getting appointments with V.A. mental health services. When they did, the appointments were usually convenient and took place as scheduled. While some participants were satisfied with V.A. services, others preferred outside providers because they were easier to access. Participants who did not seek mental health services felt they did not need them but would be more likely to seek them if the process were simplified. The main challenges preventing participants from seeking services were appointments being scheduled too far in advance, societal stigma, and potential obstacles from leadership. Many participants believed that seeking help would make them appear weak and that their peers would have less confidence. Talking about mental health was difficult for many, and they feared it could negatively impact their careers.

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