VA secretary formalizes expansion of emergency mental health care to former service members with other-than-honorable discharges

Secretary announced plans to expand coverage in March


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VA today released finalized plans that lay the framework for providing emergency mental health coverage to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges.

This is the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on this group of former service members who are in mental health distress.

“Suicide prevention is my top clinical priority,” said Secretary Shulkin, also a physician. “We want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency — whether it means urgent care at a VA emergency department, a Vet Center or through the Veterans Crisis Line.”

Effective July 5, all Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers will be prepared to offer emergency stabilization care for former service members who present at the facility with an emergent mental health need. Under this initiative, former service members with an OTH administrative discharge may receive care for their mental health emergency for an initial period of up to 90 days, which can include inpatient, residential or outpatient care.

During this time, VHA and the Veterans Benefits Administration will work together to determine if the mental health condition is a result of a service-related injury, making the service member eligible for ongoing coverage for that condition.

Since Secretary Shulkin announced his intent in March to expand VA mental health coverage to service members with OTH administrative discharges, VA has worked with key internal and external stakeholders, including members of Congress, Veterans service organizations and community partners on the issue.

Veterans in crisis should call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 (press 1), or text 838255.

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Comments

  1. Jo Coleman    

    This is great for starters…. once the condition is proven to be service related, do they get discharge uograde, the right to identify as a Veteran ( a self esteem issue no longer a (redacted) , looser, psycho or my persoal favorate… malingerer. Once these folks get some help to mitigate depression and addictions, they will become healthiee and clear headed. They will realuze how much time has passed. How many good years was stolen. Families broken. B THEN they will want more and self advocate.

  2. jtjamison    

    I lived with a veteran from WWII who joined the Marines when he was 16 and was discharged after being on Guadalcanal
    as no longer fit for service. He didn’t get any medical support. It is about time the VA got involved. My wife was a med-tech at a VA hospital. While I was in the Navy near the end of WWII, I lived with Marines who had just gotten off of Iwo Jima. They didn’t get any help, just R&R. One reason I am still alive is that I managed to evade instructions to go to the south pacific to watch the Navy blow up ships. The natives on those islands were kicked off and have no where to go years later. Much later congress passed a bill which allowed veterans with cancer from those tests to get up to $75,000 towards their medical expense.

    I am very cynical about our military and our endless wars! What about all the orphans we have created in the middle east and children we have murdered with spent uranium ammunition lying around? Aren’t they important or is that just collateral damage?

  3. Sherwin Warren    

    Exactly the thing is is most of the problem stems from the fact that my discharge status I feel is unfair and unjust I was a great sailor and student who loved serving and that has all been taken away the only answer to beginning to restore mental health is to restore my status as a veteran

    1. Chance Gray    

      I have tried for years to get my discharge upgraded, to get popped once with 8 weeks to go and being labeled a drug abuser is 80% of my PTSD diagnosis.
      So wrong.

  4. John W. Magann    

    Dear Sir/Madam:

    Over the last 5 years, I have tried many time to talk to someone regarding my OTH discharge?

    I just noticed this publication and I think I may qualify under the mental health issue? While finally
    after age 40, I am for the most part on a reasonable path?

    I developed a drinking problem as a 17 year old Navy enlistee and have submitted many letters
    to the appropriate places as advised on all my correspondence on what to do but I have never heard
    back from anyone regarding my request.

    I was given a number (redacted) to refer all further correspondence but I still have never heard back from anyone?
    Any help in this matter would be appreciated.

    Respectfully
    John W. Magann
    Service number (redacted)
    Date of enlistment was… May 31, 1957
    Date of discharge was …August 23,1960
    Phone (redacted)

  5. Charles Dubin    

    I’m so glad this syndrome has been changed.Vets with a dirty DD-214 can be as dangerous out on the streets as the heroes.It was very retroactive and LOS couldn’t be changed by the USVA or DoD.These organizations are very desirable to employers or provide some consolation in the rat-race.This should benefit many.

  6. Penny Marshall    

    Better than nothing I guess. Been fighting VA for over 30 years and never got services. MST-PTSD didn’t exist for me back then and it’s next to impossible to prove it now since all the paperwork “disappeared”. Now how about medical?

  7. Kathy Kay    

    You’re so right, Jo. A good start. By the way, I wish they’d ban use of the word ‘malingerer’ from all medical documentation. A ridiculous, shaming label!
    (VA Social Worker)

  8. JJ Hancock    

    I notice that as usual it is only for current veterans. Why is it that they only worry about that era veteran?

  9. paul    

    The ones that disrespected the uniform rate)0000000000000000….

  10. Karl Speights    

    Sorry, but I don’t trust the VA. You state PTSD for “other than honorable” with a caveat…administrative. I know three , one my son, who were Recon snipers and all have combat a couple Honorables and then drinking and whatever received BCDs. VA states they are NOT considered vets. Not eligible for treatment. My son served/participated in Kosovo airfield, take down, Iraq, Sinai, Albania ops, Central American drug ops, and more. Was told by VA psych he’s 100 percent service connected whacked…VA denied treatment and closed cases on all three, classified them non-vets. But mil trained them to kill, it’s a slippery slope, drugs, alchohol and bad memories. I remember from Vietnam the untreated postal clerks.

  11. Jerome L. Weathington    

    I was a US Sailor, in 1973. Stationed abroad a Destroyer Escort. I was persistenly sexually harassed, by another salior who worked directly with the Executive Officers, and the Captain. When this ship’s Stewart, caught me working alone he attempted to rape me. I defended myself against rape and the ship’s Executive Officer, process me out of the US Navy. Attached a Re- Enlistment Code against me and emotionally cheated me out of a military career, anywhere and personally changed my evaluation and admitted it in front of a Superior Officer. Before, the attempted rape, on two different occasions, I had awaken, completely nude and the whole entire crew left me in my rack but none of these things were ever officially reported by any Naval Personnel and the Rapists allowed to go free and I was unjustly processed out of the US Navy, with a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions, in 1974. During the Vietnam era.

  12. Manny Alvarez    

    For all of us who received the Honorable Discharge, this is slap on the face. We rightly earned our HD, why now do we have to let those who did not respect the military, be granted the same benefits we rightly earned??? Why even have a Discharge Rating if it doesn’t matter how you performed while in uniform?

    1. Mark Graff    

      Have you ever heard of the Cloward-Piven strategy? This is it in spades (pun intended). It’s designed to swamp VA healthcare with undeserving mud people.

    2. Shawn W. Simmons USS Wasp LHD-1    

      Slap in the face? Did not respect? I received a General, Under Honorable Conditions because my recruiter told me to lie at enlistment about something that was trivial. A naval recruiter, or in short, the Navy told me to lie to the Navy! I should be punished for that? I served with distinction and honor. I have letters of accommodation along with my wartime honors, yet I get nothing. It’s not like we are talking about a full pension here. We are talking mental health. It is a shame that a fellow soldier would show such GREED and hostility when discussing the mental health of his brothers in arms. I am glad you weren’t the guy that had my six in Mogandishu , where I “earned” every right that you feel I should be denied. Why are the years away from my wife and children any less of a sacrifice than yours? You may have received an HD but you have shown dishonor in your performance as a human being.

  13. Monica Hansen    

    I think for those that look badly on the vet with an OTH. Your narrow minded. Its not a Dishonorable or bad conduct, I got an oth because I couldn’t function mentally after being raped by 2 men at the same time. I was young and scared to report it. They discharged me with oth. And you spit on me? I loved serving. I went air assault, drill and waiting on my packet for W.O. school. Desert shield/storm, hurricane Andrew, Somalia, Cuba. Just don’t judge until u know the details.

  14. Gregory H. Vennect    

    Leave no one behind! What’s not to understand?

  15. Bonita Cruz    

    They deserve treatment because they still served. They still sacrificed and so did their families. You made it, congratulations and thank you for your service but do not minimize someone else because they could not meet your standards. And I thank them for their service as well. Do not to judge if you haven’t walked in their shoes.

  16. Marium Morris    

    I believe EVERYONE who served in uniform deserves lifetime full medical no matter what type of DD214.
    Actually I think their wife and kids should get the same. WHY? Because how else can you ID any problems from service like chemicals that lead to a higher rate of birth defects IF you do not treat or track them? How can you get statistics when you do not treat or thus track these Vets?. Want to do something to them? Put them in the brig, then their crime is paid for IN FULL and that is it. Kick them out and do not let them back in. BUT if they can never get a good job or medical etc then we are forcing them into what? A lifetime of crime (and hate)…??? Perhaps all records should be wiped clean after the crime is paid for, jail time etc. Otherwise only we the community will end up paying again and again. What can they do but crime, sell drugs to our kids or what? Everyone needs a job but for medical, EVERY VET and their wife and kids should get free full medical for life as a thank you for your service but mostly to track and treat them at the FIRST sign of any problems, especially ones higher than the “general population’s norm”…

  17. Discovery Not Alllowed    

    Manny, How can you make a “Blanket Statement” like ” For all of us who received the Honorable Discharge, this is slap on the face.”

    Do you know each individual case? I hope you were never a leader. God help the service members who served with you.

    Open your mind.

  18. E bowden    

    This is a question about OTH discharges, if it’s OTH
    Then what is it? What is an OTH dicharge? I know
    What an honorable, general, bad conduct is, but what
    The heck is an OTH discharge.. To me if it’s other than honorable, at least it should be general under honorable conditions. An OTH discharge has no meaning what so ever. This is a fake term they use to not classify a veteran at all. The opposite of honorable is dishonorable, NOT OTH

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