New policy gives veterans free mental health care

10 months 1 week 6 days ago Wednesday, January 18 2023 Jan 18, 2023 January 18, 2023 8:43 AM January 18, 2023 in News - Local

The VA is launching a new suicide prevention effort for veterans.

Veterans can now get emergency help from anywhere for free.

Lt. Colonel Rene Jackson retired from the US Army in 2012 after serving nearly 30 years. He, like many others, was faced with the challenge of living a normal life after war.

"It's hard to turn on and off a switch just like that,” Jackson said. It's unrealistic for anyone to expect that anyone in this situation would be able to join the military, be trained to protect oneself and take another life. And then when the activity or event or the action is done, send them back home and expect them to turn off the switch and go back to living a normal life."

Suicide has been an ongoing problem for the US Military.

A report issued last year shows in 2020 more than 6,100 veterans took their own lives.

While that was a drop from 2019, suicide remains the 13th leading cause of death among veterans.

“We've known for a long time there were veterans who were making attempts that we couldn't access, we didn't have authorization to work with them,” Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health VA Texas Valley Coastal Dr. Jessica Grogan said.

Before, the VA provided care only for veterans with VA benefits, but now, every veteran as long as they were honorably discharged can get free mental health treatment.

“We need to get the message out there,” Grogan said. “There are veterans who understand they aren't eligible for broader benefits and may not think to reach out to us in these crises. All veterans can go to the emergency room or go to the VA or use the veteran's crisis line."

Veterans feeling suicidal can get in-patient care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for 90 days.

They can get that care at any VA or non VA health care facility as long as they served honorably for more than two years.

Watch the video above for the full report.

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