Nearly 50,000 veterans received free emergency suicide prevention care in 2023, the first year of the program, the Department of Veterans Affairs will announce on Wednesday.
In January 2023, the Department of Veterans Affairs instituted a new policy allowing eligible veterans and certain former service members in acute suicidal crisis to go to any VA or non-VA health care facility to receive emergency care at no cost. The policy covers emergency room care, inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days, and outpatient care for up to 90 days.
The VA says 49,714 veterans have taken advantage of the no-cost emergency care policy since it was implemented exactly one year ago, amounting to more than $64 million in saved health care costs.
The veteran suicide rate has outpaced the rate of the general U.S. public. A 2023 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that in 2021, the suicide rate for veterans was 71.8% higher than non-veterans when adjusted for age and sex differences.
Veterans, including those not enrolled in the VA, can now to go any VA or non-VA emergency room for free emergent suicidal care. The policy also covers veterans who experienced sexual trauma while in uniform. It also covers some people who don’t meet the technical requirements to be considered a veteran, like people who were released from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable. Transportation costs are also covered by the VA.
Any eligible veteran who does receive a bill can call the VA customer service center at 877-881-7618 to resolve the issue. In addition to the no-cost emergency care policy implemented last year, the VA has taken steps to improve suicide prevention support. In 2022, it launched a new Veterans Crisis Line number – Dial 988 then press 1. You can call or text
Gardberg and Kemmerly is open for calls and online assistance and will continue to help our Veterans in any way possible, including staying up to date on any information that is helpful to our Veterans who are suffering from mental health problems. If you have a claim for disability and need assistance, please call our office and speak with one of our qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, call the office at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529 for a free consultation. Gardberg and Kemmerly is proud to serve Veterans across the country from our home office in Mobile, Alabama.