This past Tuesday saw the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act of 2020 take effect. One significant component of this Act was that mental health coverage for veterans now covers the costs of private care for veterans in suicidal crisis.
How Many Veterans Die from Suicide?
According to America’s Warrior Partnership, in 2022, there were, on average, between 22 and 24 suicides each day by veterans ages 18 to 64. Additionally, between 18 and 20 veterans ultimately die from self-inflicted harm. Therefore, every day there are between 40 and 44 veterans who die from suicide.
Mental Health and Veterans
A study by the Military Suicide Research Consortium of 72 veterans who attempted suicide listed 33 reasons why. Out of those reasons, one was common among all 72 veterans: they had a strong desire to end their intense emotional distress.
How do veterans get to the point of contemplating self-harm? One common mental health disorder veterans can experience is PTSD. This condition is triggered by being exposed to traumatic events. It could be a one-time horrific event or repeated exposure to trauma, such as being sexually assaulted multiple times.
Another mental health condition veterans can struggle with is depression. Depression can develop after leaving active duty and attempting to return to civilian life. It can be challenging for some veterans to reintegrate.
When things do not go as planned, it can lead to frustration, sadness, and eventual depression. Once depression takes hold, it can send a person into a downward spiral if it is not treated. They could turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, but eventually, the intense emotional distress can become too much to bear.
Substance Use Among Veterans
While the military takes a very harsh stance on illegal substances, including marijuana, alcohol is available to active duty personnel. As a result, it is not uncommon for activity duty personnel to enjoy drinking when allowed. Sadly, many military personnel can binge drink. In addition, access to alcohol during off-duty hours is permitted. When a person struggles to fit in and adjust to military life, they can turn to drinking. Unfortunately, their drinking habits tend to follow them after they retire from the military.
Another substance frequently misused by veterans is prescription opioids. When on activity duty, if they are injured and the pain is severe, they are given opioid painkillers. As such, they can become dependent on them, especially if their injuries and pain require them to retire. Sadly, once they are no longer on active duty, they can seek out heroin and other street opioids. Whether alcohol, opioids, or some other substance, one of the side effects of addiction is depression, which can lead to suicide.
Are Co-Occurring Disorders Treated?
When a veteran is suicidal and presents co-occurring disorders both would be treated within the same treatment plan. The V.A. will cover all treatments related to the suicidal ideations. Meaning, that if other disorders are contributing factors they will be treated as well. The treatment can be at any private facility, not just V.A. providers. This special coverage covers all costs for treatment. Veterans can receive up to 30 days of crisis inpatient or residential treatment as well as up to 90 days of continued outpatient treatment.
What If the Veteran Is Non-Suicidal?
In cases where the veteran is non-suicidal, the veteran does need to attend or be referred to a facility by a Veterans Affairs provider to have co-occurring disorders, substance use disorders, and mental health disorders treated.
Is Prior Authorization Required for the Free Suicidal Crisis Care?
Any veteran contemplating suicide or in suicidal crisis can check into any private facility or Department of Veterans Affairs facility without a referral or prior authorization. Part of this free care also includes referrals, if needed, to an outpatient care facility. That said, many private facilities also provide outpatient care, so veterans can continue working with the same counselors and therapists they saw when they started treatment.
Mental Health Treatment in Orange County, CA
If you are suicidal and a veteran, help is available at Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA. We offer a safe, caring, and supportive environment to treat co-occurring disorders at our residential treatment center. Contact us today.