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More recently, federal investigators reported last month that nearly half of the veterans who seek mental health care for the first time waited about 50 days before receiving a full evaluation, far short of the 14 days that the VA said 95 percent of new patients seeking mental health treatment get a full evaluation.

Since 2007, the VA has experienced a 35 percent increase in the number of veterans receiving mental health services. The department says it’s made strides in part by developing a more extensive suicide prevention program and by increasing the number of counseling centers.

VA officials told a Senate Veterans Affairs committee that they’ve invested heavily in mental health care over the past few years.

The VA said last week it was increasing its mental health staff by about 1,900 workers to existing mental health staff of roughly 20,590.