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Department of Veteran Affairs to expand mental health access

Fayette Tribune - 3/13/2017

The Department of Veteran Affairs plans to expand urgent mental health care services to veterans with other-than-honorable administrative discharges.

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin announced his intent to broaden service access on Tuesday while testifying before the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee.

"The president and I have made it clear that suicide prevention is one or our top priorities," Shulkin said. "We know the rate of death by suicide among veterans who do not use VA care is increasing at a greater rate than veterans who use VA care. This is a national emergency that requires bold action. We must and we will do all that we can to help former service members who may be at risk. When we say even one veteran suicide is one too many, we mean it."

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 500,000 former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) discharges.

The proposal allows these veterans to seek treatment at a VA emergency department, Vet Center or contact the Veterans Crisis Line.

"Our goal is simple: to save lives," Shulkin continued. "Veterans who are in crisis should receive help immediately. Far too many veterans have fallen victim to suicide, roughly 20 every day."

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

- Email:; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer


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