Atlanta VA Health Care System

Atlanta VA Health Care System


The Atlanta VA Medical Center (VAMC) is a general medical facility situated on a 26-acre campus in Decatur, eight miles northeast of downtown Atlanta. The center offers a total of 466 inpatient beds, for veterans and their families who are struggling with a range of medical and mental health disorders. An annual report from 2015 indicated that the center provided inpatient, residential, and outpatient care for individuals struggling with mental health disorders.

The Atlanta VAMC serves more than 130,000 enrolled Veterans living in 50 counties across northeast Georgia as well as their families.


The mental-health offerings currently described on the Atlanta VAMC’s website comprise: outpatient readjustment counseling for individuals transitioning back into civilian life and their families; social work services; and mental health integration services. The center also provides dedicated programs for individuals experiencing homelessness, which include vocational services.

Readjustment counseling is provided in individual, group, and family settings, and can include bereavement counseling as well as counseling and referrals for military sexual trauma, where applicable.

Despite the VAMC’s annual report advertising inpatient, residential, and outpatient services for individuals struggling with mental health disorders, the center’s website does not at present provide any further details of such provisions. An alum polled by indicated that they had received excellent addiction treatment at the facility, added that there were “MANY PROGRAMS DEPENDING ON YOUR NEEDS.” In addition, the Handbook of Military Social Work, notes that across the VA, the most common method of treating addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), along with education and support. The same source notes that most VA facilities provide short detox programs on both inpatient and outpatient bases, and that outpatient care is generally provided once weekly, in the form of a one- or two-hour group counseling session. The handbook also notes that VA facilities aim to assess veterans seeking addiction treatment for any co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD or depression, and to provide treatment for those disorders along with support in the areas of spirituality, sexual dysfunction, employment, and education. This holistic treatment is designed to remove likely causes of relapse. Finally, the notebook also indicates that many VA facilities provide intensive outpatient (IOP) programs that require attendance 20–30 hours per week. However, all of this information applies to VA facilities in general, and not necessarily the Atlanta VAMC in particular.


According to an annual report from 2015, the Atlanta VAMC employs psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and peer specialists. The single alum polled by to date gave the facility five out of five stars for its staff’s level of training and experience.


Eight beds are provided in an emergency mental health annex, for the treatment of mental health and psychiatric emergencies. There’s also a 15-bed emergency department for non-mental health emergencies, and a 21-bed residential treatment program, though it’s not clear from the facility’s website what this program treats. The single alum polled by to date gave the Atlanta VAMC five out of five stars for its cleanliness, accommodations, meals/nutrition, and exercise and leisure offerings.


The single alum polled by to date would strongly recommend treatment at the Atlanta VAMC. “EXCELLENT DOCTORS AND STAFF,” the anonymous reviewer wrote, also praising the center’s dedication to veterans. They gave the facility five stars in almost all of the evaluated treatment metrics, including its treatment effectiveness, family participation, counseling options, and ability to treat co-occurring disorders.

At the time of this writing, secondary review sites yielded no coverage of the mental health department in particular, and mixed reviews of the medical center as a whole: the facility had a 2.9-star average rating based on 230 reviews left on Google at the time of this writing.[1] The negative reviews repeatedly cited long wait times, general problems with admin and admissions staff, and, on occasion, errors on the part of the medical staff: “Waiting for 4 hours to get seen through ER care. Got here early in the morning to get seen, wasn’t even seen till the afternoon. Seriously horrible service,” J.A. wrote in one representative review; “Extremely rude doctors and nurses,” G.P. added in another. However, numerous reviewers defended the facility and even praised it highly: “The place can seem chaotic, but they take care of a huge number of people. They’ve saved my life twice in the last 6 years. I can only say good things about the medical staff,” E.H. wrote in a representative review.


All clients must be eligible for VA services, either having completed the requisite amount of service time in the armed forces or by being a veteran’s family member. Some clients are required to pay a co-pay for certain services. The single alum polled by to date gave the Atlanta VAMC five out of five stars for its affordability.

“Auditors at the Atlanta VA Medical Center raised new concerns about patient safety, cleanliness and even damaged furniture at the facility that cares for 145,000 veterans across the region each year,” reported in June 2017. The article reported an Atlanta VAMC spokesperson as saying: “The Atlanta VA Medical Center takes very seriously our mission to provide top quality care to our Veterans in a safe and secure environment. We concur with all recommendations outlined in this report and have implemented several actions to correct the findings.”


Reviews about Atlanta VA Health Care System

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition