Congressional Briefing - December 1, 2011

VA Mental Health Care: How Good Is It and How Can We Make It Better?

division psychiatrist listens as a soldier explains a problem, photo courtesy of Sgt. Jason Kemp/U.S. Army


Katherine Watkins, Senior Natural Scientist, RAND Corporation


Thursday, December 1, 2011


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
lunch will be provided


B-369 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.


About the Program

How effective is Veterans Administration (VA) care for the rapidly growing number of veterans with mental health and substance use issues? And what are the ways that it could be improved?

Come hear the lead author of a groundbreaking new RAND study talk about highlights and specific recommendations regarding the VA's capacity to deliver care to veterans with mental health and substance use disorders and the quality of the care that is delivered.

"While the VA does a better job at providing mental health services than other health care systems, there is still substantial room for improvement," said Dr. Katherine Watkins, lead author of the study. "With some changes, the VA could provide even better and more cost-effective care for the nation's veterans."

  • Watkins will discuss the study's specific recommendations to improve the effectiveness of VA mental health and substance use services.
  • Watkins will also discuss how VA's quality measures up to that of private-sector care and how VA care varies for veterans across different regions of the United States and for different diagnoses.
  • The RAND study, which included over 800,000 veterans, is the first comprehensive look at the full spectrum of clinical services provided to veterans with mental health issues, from assessment and treatment to chronic care management.

About RAND

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most, such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. As a nonpartisan organization, RAND operates independent of political and commercial pressures. We serve the public interest by helping lawmakers reach informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. Visit us online at

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100, ext. 5395.