ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) — A St. Paul hospital is responding to a growing need for mental health services for military veterans recovering from the psychological impact of their service.

Regions Hospital has started a new program called HeroCare for Veterans, which will coordinate care with the U.S. military and the Veterans Administration.

The VA says 22 percent of all suicides in the U.S. in 2010 were military veterans. The most common mental health concerns are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse.

“HeroCare comes at a time when there is a growing need for mental health services for our veterans,” said Chris Boese, vice president of patient care services, Regions Hospital. “In 2012 more veterans died from suicide than combat. As the largest provider of mental health care in the east metro, we want to support those who fought for us in their time of need.”

Regions says the HeroCare program is available to current and former service members during inpatient hospitalization or partial hospitalization.

The program includes a specialist who’s a veteran and an expert at navigating military benefits and resources.

“HeroCare will allow us to better treat our veterans by offering a camaraderie that other treatment environments cannot offer,” said John Kuzma, MD, a HealthPartners physician and medical director of Regions Hospital’s inpatient mental health. Kuzma is a veteran and a former Army psychiatrist. “Many veterans are uncomfortable sharing their experience with others who cannot relate. That is why our care team and group sessions are comprised of fellow service members.”

The program’s therapy includes sensory integration, which helps the brain’s ability to process different sensory messages.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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