News Releases - Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.
Veterans Crisis Line Badge

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


VA Meets President’s Mental Health Executive Order Hiring Goal

Nov. 5, 2013, 08:00:00 AM

Printable Version

More than 800 Veterans Hired as Mental Health Peer Specialists and Peer Apprentices

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs has hired 815 Peer Specialists and Peer Apprentices, exceeding the hiring goal set in President Obama’s Aug. 31, 2012 Executive Order aimed at improving access to mental health services for Veterans, service members and military families. 

On June 3, VA announced the department met another goal established by the Executive Order by hiring 1,600 additional mental health professionals.

“We have made strong progress to expand Veterans’ access to quality mental health services, but we must continue to increase access,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “These newly hired employees, Veterans themselves, are uniquely equipped to guide fellow Veterans through difficult issues.”

Peer Specialists and Peer Support Apprentices are a unique cadre of people joining VA’s mental health care teams.  They are Veterans who have successfully dealt with their own mental health recovery for a minimum of one year.  Peer Specialists are trained and certified, while Peer Support Apprentices are undergoing training and certification to become Peer Specialists.  An additional component from the Executive Order mandated that all training for these peer counselors would be complete by the end of the year.  VA remains on track to meet that requirement.

“We are proud to have exceeded the hiring goal established by the President in his Executive Order,” said Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Robert A. Petzel.  “We are well on the way to have all of these new hires trained by the end of the calendar year.”

 Specialists and apprentices are working at every VA medical center throughout the country as well as at Community-Based Outpatient Clinics with over 10,000 enrollees.  As the Nation’s largest integrated health care system, VA cares for more than 6.3 million Veterans annually, and has seen an increase in the amount of service men and women who are dealing with mental health issues.  VA’s push to hire Veterans who can provide peer support is a key part of a greater effort aimed at increasing access to mental health care services for the nation’s Veterans by hiring thousands of new mental health professionals.

Earlier this year, VA announced a 50 percent increase in staffing for the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255), which has been credited with rescuing more than 26,000 actively suicidal Veterans. 

This year, VA held Mental Health Summits at 151 VA medical centers across the country to further engage community partners, Veteran Service Organizations, health care providers and local governments, and to address the broad mental health needs of Veterans and their families.

To learn more about current VA Peer to Peer job opportunities visit:  Veterans and their families interested in learning more about the mental health services provided by VA can go to

 #   #   #

Disclaimer of Hyperlinks

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Veterans Affairs of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized VA activities, the Department does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. All links are provided with the intent of meeting the mission of the Department and the VA website. Please let us know about existing external links which you believe are inappropriate and about specific additional external links which you believe ought to be included by emailing

People wishing to receive e-mail from VA with the latest news releases and updated fact sheets can subscribe to the
VA Office of Public Affairs Distribution List.

Back to News Releases Index

Search VA News Releases