Tomah VA opens new mental health facility

Local News

Wednesday the Tomah VA unveiled their new Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program building.

The idea for the facility was first brought up ten years ago.

But it is only now being completed because of the Tomah VA’s new emphasis on Whole Health.

“We know that the Tomah VA is going to specialize in mental health conditions, primary care, long-term care then that’s what we need to focus on. So instead of building other kinds of buildings, we’ll never be an ICU, we’re never going to build an OR, we’re never going to building a big emergency room. We need to take our resources and build places like this,” said Acting VISN 12 Network Director Victoria Brahm.

U.S. Army Veteran Samuel Hipp joined the treatment program in March 2018.

“It honestly saved my life,” said Hipp.

In the program, veterans can get help for substance abuse, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, sexual trauma, and general psychosocial.

Hipp joined for substance abuse.

“No one thinks anything of it until about maybe nine months later and you’re still on the same post-deployment party mode, then it starts to get noticed. But otherwise, by that point I had learned to kind of hide it to be honest,” he said.

The new facility will increase the capacity of veterans that are able to get help, with 20 to 30 more beds being added for the six and nine week programs.

Before the center opened, at any given time there would be around 40 to 50 veterans on a waitlist to enter the program.

“To me personally, not such much the quantity of people we can have at a given time but the fact that we can take more people in quicker and reduce a waiting list. Because some people will make the decision very quickly I can’t live like this anymore, I need help,” said Hipp.

Hipp now works at the VA under Peer Support Services for Outpatient Mental Health.

He says he hopes the new facility can help more veterans the same way the program helped him.

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