Paul Hutter, chief of staff for VHA, addresses participants of the Road to Recovery. Steve B. Brooks

'Let us help you'

The Department of Veterans Affairs health-care system was set up for one reason, and the chief of staff for the health-care side of the agency wants veterans to take advantage of that reason.

Paul Hutter, chief of staff for the Veterans Health Administration, was one of the guest speakers during Wednesday’s general session of the Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute.

“VA is there, VHA is there, to make sure that we’re treating every veteran,” said Hutter, a retired U.S. Army colonel with 30 years in the Army and Army Reserves. “We want to reach out to you in as many ways as we can. We are privileged to serve our nation’s finest citizens.”

Hutter touched on one of the hot-button issues of the conference – post-traumatic stress – during his address. “The number of servicemembers suffering from PTSD has been estimated as high as 400,000, and suicide rates for the U.S. military have at least doubled in the last decade,” Hutter said. “Between 2002 and the third quarter of FY 10, a cumulative number of nearly 157,000 OEF-OIF veterans received a provisional diagnosis of PTSD in our VA medical centers and clinics. This represents 13 percent of OEF-OIF veterans who have left active duty and become eligible for VA health care since 2002.

“Every VA medical center has outpatient PTSD specialty capability, and every one of these programs has an addiction specialist associated with it to address the common issue that goes along with PTSD, and that’s substance-use disorder. Our PTSD programs provide a comprehensive continuum of care, from outpatient PTSD clinics, to specialized inpatient clinics, to pretreatment units and residential rehabilitation treatment programs. Dealing with PTSD is a central part of our mission.”

Hutter also said that mental health care is another high priority for VA. “People don’t want to come to us for (mental health) care because they don’t want to admit, with the fear of stigma, that they have a mental injury or a mental problem,” he said. “We’ve got to get over that, folks. We are trying, in conjunction with the armed services, to get over that. The Army is piloting a program right now as people transition back from Afghanistan and Iraq. Every soldier in a brigade will get mental health care, will get the opportunity to have a face-to-face contact with a mental health provider – either face to face or through Skype or through PTC.

But no matter what VA is doing, Hutter said veterans need to enroll in the system and seek help to take full advantage of the services available. “You’ve got to let us help you,” he said. “We’re going to reach out to you, but the bottom line is in order to get help, you’ve got to come to us and tell us what we can do. Ask, ask, ask, communicate and demand. Demand from your VA that they help you, and we will be there for you.”

The Road to Recovery is co-presented by The American Legion and the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes.


  1. I have been trying to get my claim processed for 6 years. I have been to the Texas Veterans Commission, where you have representatives, with no results. All they do is refile when the VA refuses my claim. Your propagander is not doing anything for me and a lots of other menbers, WAKE UP AND SMELL THE STINK, we need help Willis M Parker Veeteran US NAVY , WWII 8646 Rannie Road Houston Texas 77080 713 934 9934 home 713 9621 cell
  2. I served my country proudly in The Air Force. I have a VA and social security disability. To thank me for my service, the L.A. VA Medical Center Billing Dept has attached my social security disability that my wife and I depend upon to live. They take over $200 per month to pay for my VA prescriptions, most are used to treat my service related disability. Because of my service related disabilities, I can't get decent health insurance or life insurance. When I told the billing dept. supervisor that I couldn't afford to pay that much, all she said was that all my back charges had to be paid within 1 year and there was nothing she could do. They tell us to use the system, then they charge us for it. I'm disabled and depend on my social security and VA disability to live, and the non-veteran bureaucrats take my only means of support. The Los Angeles VAMC is not here for us. It wasn't enough that I was willing to die for my country, now they want me to pay for the privilege.
  3. I very recently had a minor surgery at the VA in Long Beach,Ca. and I was shocked at how unorganized the pre-op and post-op was. There was alot of people in the pre-op that obviously didn't have a clue what was going on, I could clearly see how things go wrong at a VA Hospital! It sounds good to provide services for all who served but it's a joke just like health care will be when that officially passes!!
  4. After 8+ years of failed claims help and nothing has helped eith my service connected PTSD from the 60"s-70"s. I will try one more time and if that fails damn the VA in Seattle.
  5. No disrepect to Paul Hutter Chief of Staff VHA, but the VA has always been there. They have been riddled with a lot of we don't care employees and that hasn't changed much. If I sound displeased with the VA I probably am, 30+ years of major depression and Pain Attacks can make you that way. I do appreciate Paul Hutter's excitement in the VA and the help many others have recieved. May God have mercy on the one's the VA damaged more than they helped...
  6. I have spent 8+ years dealing with the VA in Seattle. What a disgrace at the way they treat Viet Nam Vets. I filed three stressers and the VA did nothing on two of the stresser for PTSD. I will try one more time. If they don't help, I will leave this world the same way I came in.
  7. My name is Jerry Davis I'm recently medically retired July 28, 2010 and awaiting VA & Social Security disabilty. I'm struggling financially due to limited income. I did 13 years active duty before asthma, migraines, depression, and seizures became serious problems.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.