Veterans Can Now Receive Free Emergency Mental Health Care

Veterans can go to any health care facility and don't have to be enrolled in The Department of Veterans Affairs

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Starting this week, veterans in crisis can now get free mental health care.

It’s part of a new program from The Department of Veterans Affairs that aims to prevent suicides among veterans.

For Loudoun County veteran Jarrad Davenport, it’s an issue that’s personal.

"I had a good friend of mine who committed suicide and, you know, I think about that and say, 'Man, what could I have done different?" Davenport said.

The new program from the VA includes 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care, all for free. Ambulance rides to hospitals are also covered in the program.

Veterans can go to any health care facility and don’t have to be enrolled in the VA.

Davenport said when he got out of the military, he sought counseling, but it took time.

"I remember when I first started, sometimes it would take 30 days to get an appointment, and I was like, 'This is not helping,'" Davenport said. "Sometimes they didn’t have enough counselors, but I still stayed because I knew I needed the help."

Nearly 6,500 veterans died by suicide in 2019 and in 2020, nearly 6,150 veterans died by suicide, according to the VA. Data from 2021 and 2022 isn't yet available.

"There are so many ongoing crises with vets, especially that have been in any kind of combat situations and have PTSD," psychotherapist Susan Berlin told News4.

Berlin, who works in Montgomery County, Maryland, said she’s hopeful the new VA benefits will encourage people to ask for help.

"There are so many people that do feel like they should be able to handle their problems on their own," Berlin said. "This, hopefully, does help reduce some of the shame involved."

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741, anytime.

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