Work under way on VA mental health facility

Associated Press

by Matt Gouras

HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Construction is under way on a $6.7 million, 24-bed inpatient mental health wing at the Veterans Affairs hospital at Fort Harrison west of Helena.

The hospital is scheduled to open next June, allowing Montana veterans to receive mental health treatment in state, rather than traveling to Idaho, Wyoming or South Dakota. The new wing is expected to create 40 jobs.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana toured the facility last week. He called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder the "signature injury" of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new wing will include eight beds for PTSD, eight for acute inpatient mental health care and eight for substance abuse treatment.

The new building comes as the VA is taking more steps nationally to recognize PTSD.