Free emergency mental health care for veterans at any hospital after the VA changed
From Tuesday onwards, for the first time, military veterans experiencing a mental health crisis need only go to the nearest hospital to receive free emergency services.
“This change in VA policy is great news. By removing unnecessary barriers to access, we are also taking a huge step toward destigmatizing mental health in the veterans community,” US Rep. Seth Moulton said Tuesday.
Starting January 17, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, any eligible veteran, whether or not enrolled in the VA health care system, who is in an “acute suicidal crisis” situation can move to a VA or non-VA facility. For VA and receipt to one month of inpatient care or three months of outpatient care at no cost.
Veterans previously needed to go to a victim assistance facility in order to receive free or low-cost care for mental health emergencies. For some veterans, that may mean traveling tens or hundreds of miles from home to get care while facing an emergency.
“Veterans in suicidal crisis can now receive the world-class emergency health care they deserve – regardless of where they need it, when they need it, or whether they are enrolled in Veterans Care,” said Dennis McDonough, Minister of Veterans Affairs. last week. “This expansion of care will save veterans’ lives, and there is nothing more important than that.”
According to figures provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least 17 veterans commit suicide each day, a much higher rate than what has been seen among their civilian peers. Some studies indicate that the rate could be more than twice That, with not many suicides being reported as such.
To veterans like Moulton, a Marine who was very open minded About his struggles with service-related PTSD, The New Rules brings about an entirely necessary change.
“Even a single suicide in this community is too many, so it is inconceivable that a veteran should be charged out of pocket for seeking help during a mental health crisis,” he told the Herald through a spokesperson. “It’s critical that mental health is finally treated like any other form of healthcare, so that every veteran knows it’s OK to get help — and that they can afford it.”
According to the VA, the new rule “will provide, pay, or reimburse for eligible individuals’ treatment for emergency suicide care, transportation costs, and follow-up care in a VA or non-VA facility for up to 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care.
Eligible veterans must have been discharged or discharged from active duty after more than 24 months of active duty under circumstances other than honor.
Reserve and National Guard veterans who have served more than 100 days “under combat exception or in support of an emergency operation either directly or by operating an unmanned aerial vehicle from another location who have been discharged under other non-defective circumstances” will also be eligible.
Veterans who experience sexual assault while serving are covered regardless of time of service or circumstances.
The Biden-Harris administration has made preventing veteran suicide a top priority, according to the VA, but Moulton says there’s more that can be done.
“Now we must continue to break down the other barriers that contribute to the mental health crisis between veterans and active duty members. One of those barriers is the lack of trained mental health care providers for all of the veterans who need it.” We need more trained providers in System and who can meet the unique needs of this community. I’m working on this as part of my role on the House Armed Services Committee.”
Veterans in a mental health crisis—or anyone facing one—can quickly reach a mental health professional by calling 988, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. When calling, veterans will be required to press “1” to be connected to the Veterans Crisis Line.