FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Starting Tuesday veterans will be able to receive free emergency mental health care if they’re in a suicidal crisis.
Any veteran can get help at the VA or a private medical facility. Veterans can receive care even if they’re not enrolled in the VA system. The program is aimed at lowering the veteran suicide rate.
Ben Dykes, Washington County veteran services director, said the new policy will be a huge help for veterans.
“It opens the door, not only to the VA health care facility if you’re too far away, so you’re over in Mountain Home or you’re in Jasper, this opens the opportunity for any health care facility to provide you some help,” Dykes said.
Dr. Clifford Smith with the Department of Veterans Affairs said the program will take care of veterans while in immediate crisis and during treatment afterward.
“It has both the acute now to ensure safety, but then we have an opportunity to provide treatment to reduce the future likelihood of further distress,” Smith said.
Jannie Layne with Bo’s Blessings, an organization that supports veterans, said she hopes veterans will take advantage of the free help.
“Veterans become isolated and think there’s no one there or they’re not registered at the VA for assistance, they don’t have to be with this bill.”
Dykes said he has had veteran friends take their own life and he hopes the no-cost care will prevent more lives from being taken too soon.
“It’s huge to help so many veterans across the United States that at some point in their life, decided to put their name on a blank check up to and including the cost of their own life to defend the country.”
The policy was made possible because of the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to care and Treatment (COMPACT) Act that passed in 2020.