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Army desperately seeking health care providers

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Producer
"It's just not enough," the Army's vice chief of staff says of the numbers of health care providers.
"It's just not enough," the Army's vice chief of staff says of the numbers of health care providers.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Army vice chief of staff, seeking to reduce suicides, says there's "just not enough" caregivers
  • The Army limits the number of doctors, nurses and other providers in the ranks
  • Chiarelli: "When it comes to behavioral health care I have a real problem"
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Washington (CNN) -- The Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, who has been at the forefront of the effort to reduce soldier suicides, said Wednesday that he is most concerned about the Army not having enough doctors, nurses and other caregivers.

"It's just not enough," Chiarelli testified during a House Armed Services hearing.

He said the problem began several years ago when a limit was set on the number of Army doctors, nurses and other providers.

"The area that I'm most concerned about is that I don't have enough uniformed health care providers. We made a decision in the Army a while ago to cap the number of uniformed health care providers we had at a certain number," Chiarelli said. "We've been able to make up for that in contract health care in certain areas. But when it comes to behavioral health care, I have a real problem."

The shortage of behavioral health specialists is especially worrisome as suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder problems are growing among the troops.

Chiarelli said part of the problem is that the nation as a whole has a shortage of behavioral health experts, so the Army is competing with the civilian sector to recruit and retain them.

 
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