American veterans struggling with suicidal thoughts are now eligible for free emergency medical care.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced in a news release Friday that all veterans can receive emergency suicide care at its facilities starting Tuesday.
The care will be provided free of charge. Veterans won’t need to be enrolled in the VA’s system to receive care, either.
The care is intended for veterans who find themselves in a suicidal crisis.
The rule entitles veterans to 30 days of inpatient care at a VA facility or 90 days of outpatient care.
“Veterans in suicidal crisis can now receive the free, world-class emergency health care they deserve – no matter where they need it, when they need it, or whether they’re enrolled in VA care,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement.
“This expansion of care will save veterans’ lives, and there’s nothing more important than that.”
The new coverage will apply to the 9 million veterans who are not enrolled in the VA system, the news release said. Veterans will also be eligible for federal reimbursement for care at a private facility, according to NBC News.
The legislative basis for the new care policy is the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment Act, signed into law by then-President Donald Trump on Dec. 5, 2020.
Veterans who served 24 months of active duty or those who spent 100 days or more in a combat zone qualify for the benefit, according to the VA news release.
In the United States, veterans have much higher suicide rates than the general public.
Veterans died by suicide at a rate of 31.7 per 100,000 in 2020, nearly twice the rate of non-veteran American adults at 16.1 per 100,000, according to a VA study.
Some estimates indicate that as many as 44 American veterans take their own lives every day, according to the Military Times.
Factors such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries often play a role in veteran suicide.
just really incredible this wasn’t a thing.
— eddie (@edwardnelson4tn) January 13, 2023
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides mental health resources to veterans and civilians alike. Its hotline is available by dialing 988.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.