Federal policy expected Kentucky veterans to be saved through emergency mental health care

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Veterans and service members who call 988 can press 1 to get specific crisis help from the Veterans Crisis Line.

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Once a veteran decides to commit suicide, said a Kentucky Army veteran, “every minute counts.” Jeremy Harrell.

That’s why he thinks it’s new Federal policy Aiming to reduce suicides among veterans through free emergency mental health care would be the “virtual lifesaver” for the state, which has about 370,000 veterans. It is unclear how many of these are not enrolled in the VA health care system. Up to 9 million people can benefit nationwide.

Eligibility requirements It dictates that anyone must enroll in Veterans Association health care if they have served 24 consecutive months or the entire period of active duty. Exceptions to that include those who were discharged because active duty caused or aggravated the disability and those who served before Sept. 7, 1980. These requirements can sometimes prevent people from getting the care they need, Harrell said.

the new Federal policy It entered into force on January 17. Through it, veterans—whether VA-enrolled or otherwise—can go to any health care facility—VA and non-VA—to get emergency mental health care for free in this case of a suicidal crisis.

This free emergency care includes 30 days of inpatient or residential care and outpatient care for up to 90 days, according to United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

said Harrell, founder Veterans Clubheadquartered in the Louisville area, and defends Psychological health through a variety of organizations.

He said the new arrival makes his job as a defender easier. He always recommends his suicide prevention lifeline, 988, to people who call on him in crisis. But in the past he also had to ask a series of eligibility questions to find out how to help the person. This takes valuable time.

“The clock is ticking,” Harel said. “What we do know is that when a person makes the decision, especially in the veteran community, to take their own life… every minute counts.”

Now, help is simpler. Call or text 988. Or, as he puts it, “find your way to the nearest emergency room.”

In 2020, there was 119 veteran suicides in Kentuckyup from 100 in 2019, according to Virginia. Data for 2021 and 2022 are not yet available. Harrell said he is aware of six Kentucky veterans who died by suicide since November.

“It is heartbreaking to know how many lives we may have lost due to bureaucracy,” he said.

Who is eligible?

Eligibility criteria for this program, according to the VA:

  • Veterans who have been discharged or discharged from active duty after more than 24 months of active duty under circumstances other than disgrace.
  • Former members of the Armed Forces, including Service Reserve personnel, who have served more than 100 days under combat exclusion or in support of an emergency operation either directly or by operating a drone from another location have been discharged in non-disgraceful circumstances.
  • Former members of the armed forces who experienced physical assault of a sexual nature, sexual battery, or sexual harassment while serving in the armed forces

Are there enough mental health professionals in Kentucky?

Kentucky has a shortage Mental health care providersaccording to data from Management of health resources and services. In fact, 2022 data from Rural Health Information Centre Show every Kentucky county as a mental health deficient area.

He said this was a “major concern” for Harrell, noting pandemicExhaustion caused by the offender and the need for more social workers.

He said the private entities also need to be trained in military language so they can better communicate with the veterans who come.

But for now: “My hope is that[the hospital staff]can, if nothing else, help stabilize the individual, put their eyes on the individual, and at least try to support them, because that’s a big part of it.”

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