Attorney Articles | MFTs Working Within the Department of Veterans Affairs

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MFTs Working Within the Department of Veterans Affairs

MFTs Working Within the Department of Veterans Affairs

The Therapist

March/April 2009

Over the last few years, CAMFT has ascended on Washington D.C. to meet and work with the Department of Veterans Affairs ("DVA"), as well as numerous Senators, House Representatives, and Committees to pressure the DVA to hire MFTs to provide mental health care services to veterans and the military. Hill visits were for the purpose of informing Congress, and the DVA, about the scope of practice of MFTs, the need for additional veteran and military mental health providers, and the mutual benefits of allowing MFTs within the DVA.

In 2006, law was passed (Section 201 of P.L. 109-461) allowing MFTs to be hired within the DVA, however implementation of the necessary job classification remained ignored. CAMFT again took up efforts in Washington to lobby Congress and the DVA to follow through and provide regulations which allowed MFTs to be hired as intended in the passage of Section 201 of P.L. 109-461.

The pressure that CAMFT, as well as other organizations, placed upon these individuals and governmental bodies paid off when in January a group of frustrated members of Congress wrote to the new Secretary of the DVA to encourage the necessary and overdue implementation of the law.  to see a copy of letter.

The Congress members' request, in conjunction with the lobbying efforts to date, resulted with the Under Secretary for Health approving the establishment of a new occupational category for MFTs and LPCs. The DVA will develop the qualification standards with the help of expert stakeholders, including professional organizations such as CAMFT.

To date we have not been given a time frame as to when this will commence or the length of time it will take to implement (likely about one year), but we will keep you appraised as to the next steps. CAMFT will continue to advocate on the behalf of MFTs within the DVA.

In the meantime, if you are interested in working with veterans and/ or the military in other arenas, please see CAMFT's "Job Board" area of the website and the Jobs Within the Military section.;

Catherine L. Atkins, J.D., is a Staff Attorney at CAMFT. Cathy is available to answer members' questions regarding business, legal, and ethical issues.