Expanded Service for Those Who Serve
Right Time, Right Place, Right Intervention to Reduce Veteran Suicides
The epidemic of untreated mental health issues across the nation hit our military service members and Veterans especially hard. In fact, the Veteran suicide rate is fifty-seven percent higher than the general population. Unfortunately, two-thirds of Veteran suicides occur with firearms. Our youngest Veterans are most likely to commit suicide compared to older age groups. As our Veteran population, as with the general population, grows older, mental health issues and suicide are increasing in our older Veterans.
The federal government is responding with expanded access to care. A new law goes into effect this week enabling our Veterans to seek care wherever and whenever care is needed. Veterans Administration (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough announced the program saying
“Veterans in suicidal crisis can now receive the free, world-class emergency health care they deserve – no matter where they need it, when they need it, or whether they’re enrolled in VA care.”
Veterans in acute suicidal crisis will be able to go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost – including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA system to use this benefit.
Like Veterans, military families serve our country and deserve our support. Family members witness the struggles and triumphs of returning to civilian life. It’s important to have open and honest communication with your loved one. Listen to them, validate their feelings, and be patient and non-judgmental. Also, it is important to encourage them to seek professional help and offer to assist them in accessing the resources they need. Caring for a loved one who is struggling can be emotionally and physically taxing. It is important to make time for self-care activities such as exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking care of your own emotional and mental well-being.
We encourage you to educate yourself about the mental health conditions and other issues that veterans may face, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicidal thoughts. This can help you understand what your loved one is going through and how to best support them. In fact, joining a support group for families of veterans can provide a sense of community and understanding. This new program expands the options for care in and outside the VA system.
To repeat the new program options, Veterans in acute suicidal crisis will be able to go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost – including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA system to use this benefit. Please get help before it is too late. The Veterans Crisis Line, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and local emergency services are here for you.
Monica Stynchula – CEO / REUNIONCare, Inc.