(KUTV) Utah veteran advocates have been calling for more mental health services in Northern Utah. Now they're getting some help from Utah's Congressional delegates.
An estimated 45,000 veterans live north of Salt Lake County. Many of them are forced to commute to Salt Lake City for mental health treatment, which means, by choice, some vets go without.
"I'm aware of a number of guys that go down to vet centers for counseling and the more convenient you can make it, the better off its going to be. No doubt about it," says Terry Schow, National Executive Committee member of the American Legion and an outspoken advocate for Utah veterans.
Schow has been pushing Congress and Veteran Affairs officials to establish a veteran's center in Ogden for 10 years.
Currently, there are three veteran centers in Utah: Salt Lake City, Provo and St. George. The offices are typically located in strip-malls, where veterans can discreetly pop-in for a visit with mental health professionals, trained to help with difficulties that come after returning from military service and war.
"If they're feeling depressed or concerned they can go in and talk to someone," says Schow. "I've seen 30, 40, 50 years then all of a sudden something will trigger it. They need that mental health counseling and it's okay to get that counseling."
In 2012, Utah Congressmen sent a letter to the former Secretary of Veteran's Affairs, Eric Shinseki. Last month, Senators Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, along with Rep. Rob Bishop, followed-up with the new administration, by sending a letter to active secretary, Robert McDonald.
They called on Secretary McDonald to take notice of the issues facing Northern Utah veterans and offered to help where needed.
Schow, who has been on the front lines of the push for more resources, is hopeful.
"The momentum is closer than its ever been and we almost had one a couple years ago and it just fell through," Schow said.
At the moment, veterans who need mental health assistance in Northern Utah are encouraged to call the Salt Lake City office at 801-266-1499.
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