(WHTM) — A federal plan put in place to help veterans is now available across the country.
One veteran said he was used to trying to deal with his mental health struggles on his own, but now he doesn’t have to.
“If there’s any kind of imminent self-harm or self-risk, that they do seek treatment, and they can seek treatment when they want to or when they can,” said Peter Albert, director of suicide prevention for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
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With the PACT Act expansion, veterans now have access to the healthcare services they need. Veterans will not have to pay any copays or fees for the care they receive. If care is received at a private facility, the government covers the cost.
“Removing those barriers to care will greatly reduce the ideas, hopefully greatly reduce the suicide numbers, and the rate of suicide that we see within our military and veteran population,” said Brianne Sampson, director of clinic support and emotional wellness at Hope For The Warriors.
In 2020, there were 6,146 suicides reported among veterans.
Most veterans are afraid to ask for help or assistance, but under the new policies, 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care are offered.
“That’s what, you know, the veterans need to feel. That they aren’t thought of any lesser to go seek out mental health assistance and this here, this new policy, you know you don’t even have to be enrolled in the VA to go and seek out this mental health assistance,” said Kevin Bitterbender, U.S. Army Sergeant Major.
Over two decades the veteran population has decreased by 25%, and the lack of access to healthcare or mental healthcare is something that could have changed that.
“The ability to know that veterans, when they’re in the middle of a crisis, can reach out for care anywhere and not feel like they’re, you know, required to go to a VA, especially if it’s not local to them,” said Sampson.
For anyone who knows a veteran in need of these services, “Reach out to them, and as a leader. Be a battle buddy and reach out to those that you think may be having some tough times and just saying that, ‘Hey, I have your back if you wanna talk, talk,'” said Bittenbender.
The requirements for this new policy will be announced on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023. For more information on the benefits, visit the PACT Act website.