Starting Tuesday, All Veterans Experiencing a Suicidal Crisis Will Be Eligible

Starting Tuesday, January 17th, all veterans experiencing a suicidal crisis will be eligible for free emergency medical care at any VA or private facility. The VA will cover inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days, regardless of VA enrollment status.[0] Up to nine million veterans who are not currently receiving VA benefits will now be able to access acute suicide care due to the change.[1]

This endeavor is a critical piece of the Veterans Affairs’ 10-year National Plan for Counteracting Veteran Suicide, as well as the White House’s strategy for Diminishing Military and Veteran Suicide. It is considered a key effort of the VA’s 10-year national strategy for preventing veteran suicide.

In recent years, the VA has implemented a more aggressive strategy to tackle veteran suicide, particularly suicide by firearm, which is more common among veterans than other populations. Officials from the VA are attempting to tackle the worries expressed by veterans regarding seeking assistance for mental health issues and talking about firearms and gun safety.[2]

The VA already provides emergency suicide care, but under the new benefit, veterans will not have to pay any copays or fees for their care. The government will pay for veterans’ care if they receive it at a private facility instead of a VA facility.[3] Veterans can be reimbursed by the VA for ambulance rides to hospitals.[3]

In addition, the VA will make appropriate referrals for care following the period of emergency suicide care, waive costs for care, and provide reimbursements for emergency mental health care, including appointment fees, transportation costs, and other related follow-up expenses.[4]

If you are thinking about suicide or know someone who is, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 (Spanish: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf & Hard of Hearing: Dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.[5]

This new policy is part of a wider effort to help veterans with mental health and to prevent suicides. In 2022, the government unveiled the 988 number as a replacement for the longer 10-digit version of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and the Veterans Crisis Line. Both numbers are still operational.[6] Active-duty military personnel and veterans can dial 988 and press 1 to be connected with therapists and counselors specialized in military- and veteran-related issues.[7] Rather than dispatching police, trained mental health providers should be sent if assistance is required.[6]

0. “Change to Veteran Crisis Care Starts January 17th” KNSI, 16 Jan. 2023, https://knsiradio.com/2023/01/16/change-to-veteran-crisis-care-starts-january-17th/

1. “Suicide Crisis: ODVA offering new help to veterans” St. Helens Chronicle, 16 Jan. 2023, https://www.thechronicleonline.com/news_free/suicide-crisis-odva-offering-new-help-to-veterans/article_7ea1a07a-95bd-11ed-afd2-7f493ec1d78f.html

2. “VA Expands Efforts to Curb Suicide Among Veterans” The Wall Street Journal, 14 Jan. 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/va-expands-efforts-to-curb-suicide-among-veterans-11673704191

3. “Starting Tuesday, all U.S. military veterans in suicidal crisis will be eligible for free care at any VA or private facility” NBC News, 13 Jan. 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/veterans-suicidal-eligible-free-health-care-va-rcna65608

4. “VA to pay for all emergency mental health care starting next week” Military Times, 13 Jan. 2023, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2023/01/13/va-to-pay-for-all-emergency-mental-health-care-starting-next-week/

5. “New policy is making mental health care more accessible for military veterans” FirstCoastNews.com WTLV-WJXX, 13 Jan. 2023, https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/local/new-policy-mental-health-care-accessible-military-veterans/77-7a1fc401-b07a-4ea5-9013-1f885198c258

6. “The VA will provide free care for mental health emergencies” Task & Purpose, 14 Jan. 2023, https://taskandpurpose.com/news/va-free-care-mental-health-suicide

7. “How you can help prevent Veteran suicide in 2023 – VA News” Veterans Affairs (.gov), 10 Jan. 2023, https://news.va.gov/114330/how-you-can-help-prevent-veteran-suicide-2023