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Iowa City VA Hosts Mental Health Summit

CORALVILLE (CBS 2/FOX 28)--The VA hospital in Iowa City says it has a problem...and it wants to fix it.

The problem, too many agencies within the Veterans Administration aren't talking to each other and that's hurting service to Iowas vets.

The issue is simple providing all the medical and mental health services Americas returning veterans need.

"I think what it will do is it will help us identify where we may have some gaps in how we're delivering services, director of the Iowa City VA Medical Center, Barry Sharp.

Those gaps include helping veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deal with mental health issues like post-traumatic stress, helping families adjust to their returning heroes, providing adequate service in rural areas, and homelessness, gaps the Veterans Administration say must be fixed.

The purpose of the summit is collaboration, making sure the VA health care system is working with local mental health agencies to provide the best services to vets."

So experts from around Iowa and Illinois came together in one room to talk it out.

"We had psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, substance use disorder specialists, therapists, said Iowa City mental health service line director, Catherine Woodman.

One of the biggest challenges in Eastern Iowa is helping those who live in rural areas far from the VA medical center in Iowa City.

"We're trying to improve our services to provide them with the best possible care and services they deserve as a result of their services to the armed forces, said Johnson County VA director, Gary Boseniler.

This was a meeting about getting ideas on how to do things better they've yet to decide how they'll implement those ideas.

Organizers of the summit say the next step will to have these federal agencies talk with their local, community counterparts to see how to better blend the programs together.

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