Veterans in crisis can now receive free emergency mental health care

Posted at 5:52 AM, Jan 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-24 07:48:51-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As of this month, veterans in a suicidal crisis are eligible for free emergency care. The change comes as more veterans continue to die by suicide than by combat.

A Brown University study found there were more than four times as many veteran suicides since 9/11 compared to deaths during combat. For perspective, the VA reported in 2020 an average of 16 vets were dying by suicide per day.

Any veteran who's having a suicidal crisis, whether they're enrolled in the VA system or not, can now go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care all for free. This is a difference from what was previously offered where vets may have had to pay copays and fees for their care.

The VA will reimburse veterans for ambulance rides to hospitals. They'll also cover inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.

Veteran Jeremy Harrell helps veterans going through a crisis find peace. He knows this move will save lives.

"I just think about the six lives of the folks that I knew personally and go, how many of those lives would have been saved if they knew that they could just go and get help and there were no financial repercussions or any of that," said Harrell, who is the founder of the Veterans Club, Inc. "We all deserve an opportunity to have a peaceful, decent life without the haunting memories of what we've seen and the traumatic events that we've experienced"

Of the 18 million vets who live in the U.S., 3% do not have any health insurance, which is more than half a million people.