The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has proposed a new program that would eliminate copayments for outpatient mental health visits, and reduce copays for medications, for veterans at a high risk of suicide. This proposed rule change, published for commentary in the Federal Register on January 5, would make it substantially easier for veterans suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek mental health counseling and treatment. This, in turn, could help to deal with the high suicide rate that veterans suffer across the United States.
Veterans and Mental Health
While many people discuss the medical problems that veterans can suffer as a result of their military service, people’s attention often focuses on their more obvious physical injuries. However, mental health problems are among the most common issues that veterans face once they leave the service, with veterans suffering a suicide rate approximately 1.5 times higher than the rest of the population. Sadly, many veterans still have difficulty receiving the treatment they need to deal with suicidal ideation and other mental health problems.
Why Veterans Are at a High Risk of Suicide
Veterans often suffer from suicidal thinking more than other people due to the dangerous situations they tend to find themselves in. Veterans are at high risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), due to the risk of being in combat, as well as a disproportionately high risk of sexual assault. This, combined with other stressful factors in military life, means that mental illness remains a serious and ongoing problem among veterans of all types.
Difficulties in Obtaining Treatment
It has been recognized for years that veterans often struggle to get treatment for psychological issues. Sometimes, this struggle is related to an unwillingness to accept that they are suffering from mental health issues, but often it is also a factor of being able to obtain psychological treatment. Even with insurance, not every veteran is able to access the care they need to deal with suicidal thoughts, often as a result of the cost of therapy or medication.
What This Program Will Do
This new program, if accepted, will make it significantly easier for veterans getting medical treatment through the VA medical system to afford mental health treatment. It will also substantially reduce, or remove, the cost of medications for people suffering from depression, PTSD, or other severe psychological conditions. This will help veterans dealing with psychological problems to treat their conditions and, hopefully, reduce their risk of committing suicide.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.