FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The United States Department of Veteran Affairs announced that starting Jan. 17, veterans in suicidal crisis, can go to any VA or non-VA healthcare facility for free emergency healthcare.
According to the VA, 6,000 veterans die by suicide every year. That's about 125,000 veteran suicide deaths since 2001. In a press release, the VA said that preventing veteran suicide that has become a top priority of the Biden-Harris administration and the VA.
Navy veteran Ben Dykes is the Washington county Director of Veteran Services and emphasized that many veterans face trauma when re-integrating into society.
"Veteran suicides has been around as long as there has been veterans," said Dykes. "I personally have lost too many friends, I've lost seven friends because of suicide."
"First World War, there was a term called shell shock. And it's gradually grown and metastasized into what we now call PTSD," added the Navy veteran.
In recent years veteran suicide rates have dropped after peaking in 2018, which saw about 127 veteran suicide deaths a day.
"The VA has recognized that 2020 was the second consecutive year where there was an actual decrease in the percentage of suicides. So that's huge," said Dykes.
In the press release, the VA said that nearly 9 million veterans were not registered with the VA. Which Dykes explained, could mean many were missing out on the mental and medical health services provided. Starting Jan. 17, veterans in a cute, suicidal crisis, will be able to go to any VA or non-VA healthcare facility for emergency healthcare at no cost.
"Veterans whether they're enrolled in VA health care or not enrolled, they can seek care at any VA or non-VA health care facility, if they're in a suicidal crisis. And the VA is going to reimburse that also offer I think it's 30 days of inpatient treatment and pay for up to 90 days of outpatient treatment," Dykes added.
Dykes pointed out that veterans don't have to visit to Little Rock or Fayetteville VA after former President Donald Trump signed the VA choice act.
The efforts by the VA are a part of a 10-year national strategy for preventing veteran suicide and the Biden and Harris administration's plan for reducing military and veteran suicide.
"You know that never leave a man behind is a great motto on the battlefield. But when you're off the battlefield, never leave your family behind," said Dykes.
The Director of Veterans Services says you can use a DD 214 to show you're a veteran at any healthcare facility. You can fill out one at any VA or community-based outpatient clinic. You could also visit the VA or national archives website to receive that information.
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