Veterans Flock To Free Suicide Prevention Program

The Department of Veterans Affairs will report on Wednesday that over 50,000 veterans got free emergency suicide prevention treatment in 2023, the first year of the program.

Eligible veterans and certain former service members experiencing an acute suicidal crisis may now get free emergency treatment at any VA or non-VA health care institution, according to a new policy introduced in January 2023 by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Up to 30 days of inpatient or crisis residential treatment, as well as 90 days of outpatient care, are covered by the coverage.

More than $64 million in avoided medical expenses has resulted from 49,714 veterans using the VA’s no-cost emergency care program since its implementation one year ago.

Veteran suicide prevention is the VA’s top priority, and Secretary Denis McDonough said that the agency’s efforts to provide access to free healthcare had saved countless lives.

The suicide rate among veterans is higher than the national average. After adjusting for age and sex disparities, a study from 2023 by the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that the suicide rate for veterans was 71.8% higher than for non-veterans in 2021.

According to the same source, 6,392 veterans took their own lives in 2021, with almost 17 soldiers dying daily on average.

A new national plan to prevent military and veteran suicide was unveiled in November 2021 by the Biden administration. The problem was called a “public health and national security issue.”

Two of the strategy’s stated objectives were improving crisis care and expanding access to high-quality mental health services.

Free urgent suicidal treatment is now available to all veterans, including those who aren’t enrolled in the VA, at any emergency department, whether it’s a VA or non-VA facility. Also covered by the policy are veterans who suffered sexual trauma while serving their country. For example, it benefits those discharged from the active military for reasons other than dishonorable, even if they do not technically qualify as veterans.

Additionally, the VA will pay for your transportation expenses. Veterans who qualify for VA benefits and receive bills may address any issues by calling the VA customer care department at 877-881-7618.

Veterans can also reach a dedicated hotline by dialing 988 and pressing 1.