On Tuesday, the US Department of Veterans Affairs announced a new policy that could save the lives of struggling veterans.

As of January 17th, veterans in suicidal crisis can go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for free emergency health care.

In an effort to decrease the statistics surrounding veterans and suicide, the expansion of care will include inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.

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“This expansion of care will help prevent Veteran suicide by guaranteeing no cost, world-class care to Veterans in times of crisis,” said the department. “It will also increase access to acute suicide care for up to 9 million Veterans who are not currently enrolled in VA.

Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA system to use this benefit.

According to the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, Veteran suicides decreased in 2020 for the second year in a row, but there is still a long way to go.

“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 recent months, the VA has made it clear that suicide prevention is at the top of its list. In July 2020, the FCC launched the number 988 for people in crisis, and Veterans are able to call the 3-digit number and press 1 to connect with a qualified responder for 24/7 crisis support.

Suicide is a national public health issue, with more than 45,000 Americans dying by suicide each year and rates increasing among people ages 10 through 75. New data shows a similar increase in deaths by suicide among Veterans.

With this new expansion, struggling veterans on the SouthCoast can have a second chance at a better life.

Rucking 22 Miles From New Bedford to Westport for Veteran Suicide Awareness

A group of veterans, friends and supporters walked 22 miles from New Bedford to Westport and back again on Veterans Day to increase awareness of veteran suicide.

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