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COMPACT Act expands free emergency suicide care for Veterans


February 1, 2023

POPLAR BLUFF , MO — Prevention of Veteran suicide continues to be VA’s top clinical priority, and now, Veterans facing acute suicidal crisis have expanded options to receive immediate medical care during periods when they are most vulnerable.

Under the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act, Veterans with acute suicidal crisis can go immediately to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost to them.

“Veterans in suicidal crisis can now receive the free, world-class emergency health care they deserve – no matter where they need it, when they need it, or whether they’re enrolled in VA care,” said VA Secretary for Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough in a news release. “This expansion of care will save Veterans’ lives, and there’s nothing more important than that.”

Veterans do not have to be enrolled in VA health care to receive such emergency care, meaning the COMPACT Act could potentially affect up to 9 million former servicemembers who currently are not enrolled.

Veterans must, however, meet at least one of the following criteria to be eligible for this emergency care, regardless of enrollment status:

  • Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable after a period of at least 24 months of active service.
  • Veterans who served more than 100 days under a combat exclusion or in support of a contingency operation, either directly or by operating an unmanned aerial vehicle from another location, who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Veterans who were the victim of a physical assault of a sexual nature, a battery of sexual nature, or sexual harassment while serving in the armed forces.

Under the COMPACT Act, VA will provide, pay for, or reimburse for treatment of eligible Veterans’ emergency suicide care, transportation costs, and follow-up care at any VA or community health care center for up to 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care.

Additionally, VA will make referrals for care following the period of emergency suicide care and will determine if a Veteran might be eligible for other VA services and benefits. Those eligible will be referred to appropriate VA programs following their period of emergency care.

If a qualifying Veteran receives a bill for emergency suicide care after treatment, VA will expedite the review process to ensure those costs are handled appropriately.

Veterans in the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center catchment area who may have questions about the COMPACT Act are encouraged to call 573-686-4151 for assistance.

Veterans in crisis, or concerned about one, can contact the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988 and pressing option No. 1. Confidential support is available 24/7, regardless of enrollment status.