On January 17, 2023, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs announced a milestone expansion in emergency mental health resources for eligible veterans. In accordance with the new policy, veterans who are experiencing suicidal crises can now receive free mental health services at both VA and non-VA health care facilities.
Even veterans not currently enrolled in VA benefits may access these resources, which include inpatient care services for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.
Many veterans experience mental health concerns following their service, and veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may be at even higher risk of serious mental health conditions. This expansion of no-cost services could help millions of veterans get the resources they need.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said in the announcement that, “This expansion of care will save veterans’ lives, and there’s nothing more important than that.”
Understanding Services and Eligibility
The expansion will allow veterans to access a host of emergency mental health services at no cost to them.
The VA is now able to provide, reimburse, or pay for emergency suicide-related treatments, including transportation, follow-up services, and both inpatient care and outpatient care for an allotted amount of time.
As a result, the VA can also provide referrals to veterans regarding additional benefits or services they may be eligible for after they receive emergency suicide-related services. This could provide veterans with long-term care services to ensure they are supported during every step of their mental health treatment.
Veterans eligible for these services include:
- Veterans who served for more than two years before being discharged or released
- Former members of the armed forces or reserves who served more than 100 days under a combat exclusion or in support of a contingency operation
- Former service members who experienced sexual assault, battery, or harassment during their service
Understanding the Signs of Mental Health Crisis
Too often mental health struggles are suffered in silence. Even some veterans experiencing distressing emotions may not understand how to address them.
In fact, the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report considered veteran suicide prevention the VA’s highest clinical priority. It’s important to increase awareness of the warning signs of mental health crises so more people can get the care and support they need.
Some common warning signs of suicidal thoughts may include:
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Immense physical pain or discomfort
- Increased anger and agitation
- Isolating self or seeming unsociable
No one has to suffer these feelings alone or in silence. There are resources available to help.
Accessing the Care You Need
Veterans who are experiencing suicidal crises can receive immediate assistance 24/7 by contacting the Veterans Crisis Line through:
- Chat: VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat
- Phone: 800-273-8255 (Press 1)
- Text: 838255
If you or someone you love are suffering from suicidal thoughts, you can also call 911 for help getting transported to a local medical facility.
Additionally, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma may need additional support resources. Our team at Mesothelioma Veterans Center is here for you. After working with veterans across the nation, our team has compiled important support resources for mesothelioma veterans.
Veterans who developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure during their service may also be eligible for additional compensation to help support them through this difficult time. Contact our team of advocates today at (877) 450-8973 for help.