More Military Veterans Will Receive Emergency Mental Health Care Access

Military Members

Tens of thousands of former U.S military members who risked their lives at war are about to get an additional layer of protection.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that beginning this summer, they will provide emergency mental health care to some veterans who received less than honorable discharges. Military members with honorable discharges have full access to health care and several other benefits.

“Our goal is simple: to save lives,” said David Shulkin, secretary of veterans affairs, according to the New York Times. “Veterans who are in crisis should receive help immediately.”

Under the new policy, veterans with less than honorable discharges will need to successfully attribute their health struggles, such as PTSD or traumatic brain injuries, directly back to their service. Once this is done, they will be able to access care through the Veterans Crisis Line or a V.A. emergency room. However, any former military members expelled with dishonorable charges will not be able to access these services regardless of their condition.

Although it’s not clear exactly how many veterans are dealing with mental health problems, there are roughly 500,000 U.S. veterans with less than honorable discharges. More than 100,000 of those are people who left service during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Data from the office of Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) also shows that since 2009, 22,000 military veterans with traumatic brain injuries or mental health issues were discharged for alleged misconduct. The reasons for discharge ranged all the way from minor administrative violations to serious felonies.