A new facility that will provide a valuable service for military veterans opened its doors Friday in Palo Alto.
With the cutting of a red ribbon, the Veterans Administration newest mental health center opened in Palo Alto Friday.
After two tours in Iraq, Army veteran Chris Hurt knows firsthand the mental hurt military men and women bring home with them.
“I wasn’t going out any more, I was just locking myself up and I was just drinking excessively,” Hurt said.
Hurt was briefly committed to a psychiatric unit in the old facility, suffering from post-traumatic stress.
“Compared to the other place, it’s night and day, it’s amazing,” he said.
From the gardens to the windows in the 80 rooms, the 90,000 square foot center is designed to be therapeutic.
“When you walk in and you get that comfortable feeling and that’s a big deal you know for your peace of mind,” said Navy veteran Dawn Saugen of San Jose.
Saugen walked into the old psychiatric ward six months ago deeply depressed.
“I was on the brink of taking my own life,” Saugen recalled.
In this country, about 18 veterans a day commit suicide.
”In the VA, we’re making some progress but I think it’s important to remember that no suicide is tolerable.” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA Under Secretary for Health.
Under criticism of long waits for help, the VA has now started hiring almost 2,000 mental health staffers nationwide.
More people and more centers like the one in Palo Alto, the VA said, will help heal the invisible wounds of war.