Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) June 12, 2019 - A new law has expanded mental health coverage to other-than-honorably discharged veterans through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The VA has been accused of mishandling the implementation of the change and failing to effectively notify potentially eligible veterans. The new law is an expansion of a 2017 program which granted some other-than-honorable discharges access to acute mental health care services during a crisis. Eligible vets can now receive ongoing mental health care outside of a crisis situation. The VA had 180 days after the law went into effect in March 2018, but it did not do so until January 2019 when it sent letters to some veterans who were potentially eligible.
“Veterans who have an other-than-honorable discharge from the military are particularly at risk for mental health issues and suicide,” says James G. Fausone, lead attorney at Legal Help for Veterans in Northville, Michigan. “They can face significant barriers to getting care.”
An other-than-honorable discharge is issued when a service member is released from military service for misconduct. This leaves them unable to collect any VA benefits except in a few cases, such as when the misconduct was caused by PTSD or other service-related trauma. The new law will not entitle them to other VA healthcare or disability compensation.
There are an estimated 500,000 veterans with an other-than-honorable discharge status and the VA estimates it has treated less than one percent of them in each of the last two years — 2,850 in 2018 and 940 in 2017. Seventy percent of this care was for mental health issues.
Given the VA’s failure to effectively notify eligible vets of the new law, veterans may qualify for this coverage and not know it. It is important to check for eligibility.
James G. Fausone is a military veteran with years of experience in the legal field.
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800
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