The PACT Act is a new law that expands VA health care and benefits for Veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. This law helps us provide generations of Veterans—and their survivors—with the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.
This page will help answer your questions about what the PACT Act means for you or your loved ones. You can also call us at 800-698-2411(TTY: 711).
And you can file a claim for PACT Act-related disability compensation or apply for VA health care now.
What’s the PACT Act and how will it affect my VA benefits and care?
The PACT Act is perhaps the largest health care and benefit expansion in VA history.
The full name of the law is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.
The PACT Act will bring these changes:
Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures
Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
Helps us improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures
If you’re a Veteran or survivor, you can file claims now to apply for PACT Act-related benefits.
What does it mean to have a presumptive condition for toxic exposure?
To get a VA disability rating, your disability must connect to your military service. For many health conditions, you need to prove that your service caused your condition.
But for some conditions, we automatically assume (or “presume”) that your service caused your condition. We call these “presumptive conditions.”
We consider a condition presumptive when it’s established by law or regulation.
If you have a presumptive condition, you don’t need to prove that your service caused the condition. You only need to meet the service requirements for the presumption.
Read more about the PACT Act on the VA’s website here.
For retired Army Colonel Jim Bedingfield, it’s been nearly three decades of relearning how to put one foot in front of the other. Here’s his story of recovery and hope that he hopes will inspire others.
His rehab journey began back in 1994 after a spinal cord injury in the Army left him paralyzed.
“I had to learn how to walk again, had to learn how to use my arms and hands,” he shared.
I am aware of the challenges associated with transitioning back to civilian life after serving in the military. The daily reality of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for some veterans can have a profound effect on their lives and relationships, as well as their capacity to find and keep a job.
The unseen scars that trauma (such as sexual assault or combat) leaves behind can be challenging to explain to others, and many employers may not be aware of the signs or know how to make accommodations for PTSD sufferers. “Approximately 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. More than 500,000 veterans are thought to experience PTSD.
Regrettably, many organizational leaders are unaware of the difficulties that PTSD-affected veterans encounter. Veterans may have trouble finding and keeping jobs as a result of this ignorance, which may exacerbate their symptoms and make it much harder for them to acclimate to civilian life.
In light of this, it’s critical for employers to become knowledgeable about PTSD and to take active steps to support veterans at work. Yet, we also need to be watchful of the language we employ while discussing the subject. Although, while PTSD is a genuine and serious condition, the word “disorder” maintains a negative connotation and can stigmatize those who experience it.
In particular, the diagnostic needs to be revised to remove the word “disorder.”
This is why:
The Label “Disorder” Is Stigmatizing
The term “disorder” indicates that the person with PTSD has some sort of underlying defect. People may feel ashamed as a result and be reluctant to get the assistance they require. Additionally, it supports the false notion that mental health issues are character flaws or shortcomings rather than treatable medical conditions. This may result in stigmatization and discrimination, both of which may hurt a veteran’s prospects for obtaining and retaining employment.
By excluding the word “disorder,” we may contribute to eradicating this stigma and facilitating open communication between veterans, co-workers and employers about their needs and experiences. This in turn can assist firms in providing better veteran employee support and fostering a more diverse workplace.
It’s a Natural Reaction to Trauma – It Is Not a Disease or Disorder
The term “disorder” should not be used to describe PTSD because it is inaccurate. In the conventional sense of the phrase, PTSD is not a disorder. Rather, it is a typical reaction to an unusual and stressful occurrence.
A person’s brain and body go through a number of physiological changes after experiencing trauma. These modifications are intended to assist the individual in surviving the trauma and defending themselves against further harm. In other circumstances, though, these modifications might continue for a long time after the trauma has passed, resulting in symptoms like hyperarousal, flashbacks and avoidance.
This reaction to trauma is normal and adaptive; it is not a pathology. By eliminating the word “disorder,” we can influence the dialogue around PTSD and frame it as a normal reaction to trauma that calls for assistance and understanding rather than stigma.
It Could Promote Help-Seeking Behavior
And last, removing the word “disorder” from PTSD may help veterans seek out assistance. When a condition is identified, a person may believe that there is an underlying issue with them that cannot be resolved. They may have feelings of helplessness and hopelessness as a result, which may deter them from reaching out for assistance.
We can lessen these feelings of hopelessness and inspire veterans to go for the assistance and resources they require to manage their symptoms and prosper in their personal and professional life by portraying PTSD as a typical reaction to trauma.
Employers have a significant voice in this discussion. They can make it easier for veterans and other workers who have Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) to disclose their illness and get the assistance they require by fostering an environment of understanding and support.
This can involve offering PTS information and tools, such as instructing managers on how to identify symptoms and provide accommodation, as well as providing employees and team members with private places to turn for assistance. It might also entail fostering an environment at work where mental health is valued, perhaps by providing flexible work schedules or mental health days.
Employers must also appreciate the distinctive skills that warriors with PTS can bring to the workplace. Many veterans may contribute significantly to their organizations because they have acquired abilities like adaptability, resilience and leadership from their military experience. Employers can aid veterans with PTS in feeling strong and valued at work by identifying and respecting their strengths.
Ultimately, the focus of the discussion around veteran PTS awareness should be on dispelling myths and fostering compassion. We can improve the way we communicate about mental health disorders and encourage people to get the care they require by eliminating the word “disorder” from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and concentrating on the normalcy of the symptoms.
Larry Broughton is a former U.S. Army Green Beret, best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker and leadership mentor. TheLarryBroughton.com
Bobby Henline survived two wars and 48 surgeries and now he’s standing in front of an audience on the Huckabee TV show, telling jokes.
“Halloween is my favorite holiday because I make lots of money at the haunted house,” he says. “I made $50 laying in my neighbor’s yard. I even got a modeling job at the Halloween Super Store.”
Henline, who suffered burns on 40% of his body while fighting in Iraq, is loose, cheerful, wearing a sky-blue blazer, jeans and boots.
Photo: Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bobby Henline, second from right, receives an award at Forward Operating Base Walton, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Henline and four other wounded warriors visited Afghanistan as a part of Operation Proper Exit. (Public domain photo from defenseimagery.mil).
“It took me four tours and an IED to figure out my lucky number is three… I’m a little slow…”
He’s just getting warmed up. He often warns civilians, “I hope you enjoyed that, because it’s going to get darker.”
“They have a hard time laughing at me,” he said. “They eventually come around.”
This is a story about not being afraid of the dark.
Joking As a Way of Coping
Henline, 51, married to wife Connie and a father of four, was wounded while serving with U.S. Army in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Iraq War. The Humvee he was riding in hit an IED. Four other soldiers were killed. Henline’s face and head were burned to the skull. His left hand and forearm below his elbow were damaged so badly amputation was necessary.
After being put into a medically-induced coma, he awakened after two weeks and underwent six months of treatment. Henline has since had several surgeries including dozens of skin grafts and reconstructions.
While hospitalized, Henline, a veteran of the Gulf War who’d re-enlisted after 9/11, goofed around and told jokes as a means of coping. It happens that he had a great aunt who had a “disformed face,” as he describes it.
“It didn’t stop her. I look to her for strength.”
His occupational therapist urged him to attend an open microphone night at a comedy club. Just to satisfy her, he did so. Backstage at his first performance, he was a nervous wreck. Then he remembered he had written a rap in ninth grade—about constipation.
“When the warning light came on at the end of two minutes to indicate that I still had one more minute to go, I did my constipated rap,” he said.
Henline made his debut on a big a stage in 2009, at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles, and became a regular at open mic nights at comedy clubs like Hollywood Improv and Laugh Factory. He appeared in the Showtime documentary Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor, as well as Samsara, Surviving Home, MBF: Man’s Best Friend, Shameless and Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy.
‘I Needed That Laugh Today’
He helped found the Bravo748 Military and Law Enforcement Speakers Bureau, and he’s traveled the world as a motivational speaker for the organizations. He formed a charity called Forging Forward with the goal of helping troops, first-responders and their families deal with injuries and traumas. “It’s the best revenge I can get for those four men and their families,” says Henline, referring to his four comrades who were lost in the IED explosion.
He knows what survivors and families are going through; after his injuries and loss, he’d been suicidal. He’d prayed for death thousands of times.
“There have been so many times when a Soldier has come up and said, ‘I needed that laugh today,’” Henline said. “We hug and we cry—then we pretend we were chopping onions together, but I’m a big cry baby, I let it all out…. Sometimes I’m there to remind others that they can go on, and sometimes they help remind me.”
Going from fighting in the Middle East to standup comedy seems unlikely, but this is a story about light, too.
“When you talk about the truth—that’s the best comedy,” he said, which is why he issues lines like, “They took my stomach and put it on top of my head. Now, I pick lint out of my ears.”
He looks mischievous after punchlines, like he’s playing a prank and on the verge of cracking himself up.
There are four people who try to dodge his jokes at every chance, though: his kids. One of his daughters stopped following him on Instagram, where 63,000 followers do think he’s funny.
“I don’t know what you’re going to do next,” she told him.
This year, Henline will host several Forging Forward events at military bases and other sites across the country, including a Big Sky Retreat in Helena, Montana on June 1-4.
Groups of six to eight military personnel and first responders will get the chance to explore outlets via fishing, rafting, horseback riding and photography, outlets that “bring you back to who you are,” Henline said. He keeps the events small so that “Nobody gets lost.”
Henline’s newest outlets are fly fishing and golfing. How do you tie a fly with one hand? Part science, part will. How do you golf? He can’t fully explain it.
Out on the links, shanking, chunking, hitting for a double bogey, just trying to break 100 (which he’s done), Henline does not take out his frustrations on himself. With his trademark sardonic smile, he lets his clubs, or the weather, have it.
“I’ve cursed more in a year and a half of golfing than I ever did in the military,” he laughs.
Survivor season 43 winner Mike Gabler has donated $100,000 of his $1 million prize winnings to Veterans Exploring Treatment Solutions (VETS), a non-profit providing resources, research, and advocacy for U.S. special operations military veterans seeking mental health treatment with psychedelic-assisted therapies.
Gabler selected 10 veteran organizations to split his winnings with —highlighting non-profits that help former service members with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) who are at risk of suicide.
Mike Gabler’s donation was made on behalf of his father, Robert Gabler, who was a Green Beret, to veterans in need who are overcoming health challenges and to curb the suicide epidemic.
As a nonprofit organization that supports veterans in accessing psychedelic-assisted therapies, VETS recognizes the critical importance of psychedelic research. Recent Phase 3 trials of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD are demonstrating the significant impact of psychedelic treatment on individuals suffering from trauma-related disorders. Other compounds, like psilocybin and ibogaine, are also showing incredible promise in addressing these issues—but more research is critically needed.
Gabler’s donation will directly support VETS’ work to provide resources, research, and advocacy for veterans seeking psychedelic-assisted therapies.
“There is nothing like the support of the military and veteran community, and we are incredibly grateful to Mike Gabler, the son of an Army Special Forces veteran, for donating a portion of his Survivor winnings to VETS. Mike exemplifies the notion of serving those who’ve served, and we honor and value his outstanding leadership and unparalleled commitment to giving back,” said Marcus Capone, Co-Founder and Chairman of VETS.
VETS and its community greatly appreciates the donation from Gabler and is looking forward to expanding access to psychedelic-assisted therapies to additional veterans to ultimately put an end to veteran suicide.
In 1948 Dr. Sir Ludwig Guttman, who escaped Nazi Germany and found solace in Stoke Mandeville, England, became the father of disability sport and, eventually, the Paralympic Games. His goal was to return spinal cord-injured WWII veterans to a healthy and active lifestyle using sport as the tool. The practice continues to this day with hundreds if not thousands of disability sports groups supporting wounded, ill and injured service members who have been injured on the battlefield or off.
I was fortunate to be the founder of the United States Olympic Committees Paralympic Military Sports Program in 2004. It began a lifelong pursuit of using sport as the conduit to healthy, active lifestyles both for the military and civilians.
I had a passion for this work for at least two reasons. First, I was a product of it. Though the programs I outlined were not in existence, I used sport as a tool for my recovery and, in the process, made two Paralympic teams.
Second, the relationships I forged during my time in the Army’s Community and Family Support Center (CFSC) under the tutelage of the best boss I ever had, Colleen Amstein, prepared me for building this program with familiar commanders who had once welcomed me to their military installations when I was the associated director for the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers Program, or (BOSS).
Contrary to the belief that this program was easy to build, it was not. If you remember, in 2004, Americans were unsure if they wanted to defend the new war. Debates were high about whether WMDs or weapons of mass destruction existed.
This was supposed to be Dad’s war, and over in a matter of days, just like Desert Shield/Desert Storm. When casualties, primarily amputation, began to overrun Water Reed Medical Center, military commanders did not know how to build a program centering on injured veterans who had fought for our freedoms. We’re now fighting to rebuild their lives.
In my 15 years of building these programs, let me share why sports are essential for both military injured and civilians with disabilities.
Belonging: The greatest observation I made was that every service member, no matter how limited they were by their disability, first longed for reconnection to the unit they left behind. There was a sense of abandonment. They felt as if they had left their buddies on the battlefield.
Overwhelmingly there was a consensus to get back to the battlefield.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has our basic needs at its base: food, shelter and clothing. But underneath it all is belonging.
Injured service members begin to find a new community when sports are introduced. They are healing together, and sports have become the conduit to the community. I witnessed service members who were reluctant to play a sport, time and again, become that sport’s number one cheerleader.
Confidence: A person with an acquired disability may not know their new capabilities. Why? Because they are dealing with a new set of data points. In my keynote speech, “Amputate Fear: Hurdle Adversity, Embrace Your New Normal Mindset,” I share that the NNMS begins with rebirth. We have to relearn how to function by adapting to our new environment.
Sports like sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and goalball are team sports allowing service members to test their skills and grow in their new environment. Each session increases their confidence in their abilities. Eventually, they become strong enough to do the sports independently or find the confidence to try other activities. Some athletes even pursue a higher level of sport and make Paralympic teams.
Self-Identity: I believe one of the most remarkable outcomes of sports for the service-connected person is understanding who they are.
When a person has an acquired disability, they have to work through societal stigma. All of our lives, we are shown images of people with disabilities who are perceived as less than others in society.
In the movies, people with disabilities are villains. At the end of October, we see ghosts, goblins and goons come out for Halloween. Have you noticed that many are disfigured? Many have disabilities, or what some may call deformities. Others have hidden disabilities like mental health conditions.
When a person transitions from being temporarily abled-bodied (TAB) to disabled or “disfigured,” they wrestle with the fact that they are not the character they have been accustomed to seeing portrayed by society.
Sports help to normalize disability. People begin to walk confidently by challenging the status quo through physical actions — their mental acuteness returns. There is work to get to this “resolve” moment, and sport brings us back to that identity of not caring how other people view us. We walk with confidence in knowing who we are because we have done the work of learning our new capabilities because of sport.
Two programs that helped me in this regard were kayaking on the San Marcos River and single rowing on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas.
I wonder if Sir Ludwig Guttman understood the depth and vastness of his work, as he primarily focused on spinal cord injuries. But through his vision, I was inspired to continue his legacy of using sports for all those who need to embrace a new normal mindset.
Johnny “Joey” Jones knows all too well that sacrifice can often be the price of serving our great nation. The retired Marine Corps Staff Sergeant served in both Iraq and Afghanistan over his eight years of active duty.
While in Afghanistan, deployed as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal technician, he suffered a life-changing injury from an IED that resulted in the loss of both of his legs above the knee. He also sustained injuries to his right forearm and wrists that fateful day back in 2010.
Today, he is on a new mission, dedicating his life to improving the lives of all who served along with their families.
U.S. Veterans Magazine (USVM): What your inspiration was for initially joining the military?
Joey Jones (JJ): My two best friends, Chris and Keith, both of their dads were career military. Chris’ dad was my football coach and technology teacher, and he went to Desert Storm. When he came back, he had this little slideshow of Desert Storm he would show every eighth-grade class each year this as they were going into high school. It was just kind of to let kids know, as they are picking colleges and deciding what to do for the rest of their life, that military service was an option. And that inspired me early on. It inspired me in eighth grade, I guess.
Chris and Keith would talk about their dads and Keith had an uncle who was in the military. I didn’t have anybody in my family, not in my immediate family anyway, who had served in the military. About 2004, I was getting ready to graduate high school and Keith decided he was going to enlist in the Marine Corps, and he started talking to a recruiter. I didn’t want any part of it. Our buddy Chris went to North Georgia College, and with his dad being career military, Chris went into the ROTC program. Quite honestly, my high school girlfriend broke up with me; I didn’t like the job I had; I dropped out of college to change my job hours. I just went to work one day and realized I could work the rest of my life in a job I didn’t like or I could go see what else was out there. That was the first spark that maybe I wanted to leave town.
Then my buddy Keith got me in front of the recruiter and the recruiter did what recruiters do best—they sold me on the Marine Corps. I never talked to another service. If I was going to go to boot camp, I wanted to go to the toughest and hardest one and kind of prove that I could do it.
USVM: You were just 23 years old when you became a double amputee. Can you talk a little bit about your recovery and what inspires you now?
JJ: Sure. When I was injured in 2010, it was the beginning of the worst time for really all the services, but especially the EOD Program and the Marine Corps. We went from maybe five to 10 amputees of some sort on the floor at Walter Reed to 50 in about three months and so, the numbers just blew up right about the time I got hurt. I was on the front end of that, which meant I was through a lot of my initial recovery by the time a bunch of the guys started coming in. I don’t really know why, but Marines and sailors would do their physical recovery at Bethesda. Soldiers and airmen would do their physical recovery at Walter Reed. At the time they were two different places, but the actual rehabilitation where you get on prosthetic legs and learn to walk or learn to use your prosthetic hand or whatever it was for you, that training center was on campus at Walter Reed. The goal of what’s next was very unknown to them.
Once I recovered, it took me a couple of months to get through the healing process. I got injured in August 2010 and started walking in February 2011, so around that time, I started going back over to Bethesda because a bunch of my EOD buddies were there. And because I realized nobody ever did that for us. We didn’t really get that. When five or 10 of us were there, there was no concerted effort to show us what was next.
Just by walking the rooms, I got to spend time with the guy that just got hit, spending time with the family that didn’t have a clue what was next and letting them know that in just a few short weeks or months they would be eventually walking too, so it felt good for me.
It kept me accountable and meant, in order for me to do that, I had to practice what I preached and go to therapy every day and get better and better with my legs. It felt good to inspire the other guys and so that’s kind of initially a big part of why I was able to recover so quickly. Then on top of that, when you’re in war, you see the circumstances for somebody to die every day, and you see people die about once a week. When you get blown up and you look down and you realize you’re still alive, you’ve got a lot to be thankful for.
USVM: Can you also share some of your thoughts on the recruiting issues you think that faces our military today and what you think can be done to entice young men and women to enlist?
JJ: I think we look at it backwards, in a lot of ways. We’ve had a culture for about 20 years now of steering the recruiting towards catering to the recruit. We’re going to give you college when you get out and you can have a chance of healthcare for the rest of your life. My recruiter told me I could be stationed close to my house, which was never an option. We have geared recruiting so much towards the recruit that we’ve taken the element of adventure out of it, and we’ve taken the challenge out of it.
Back in 2005, when I walked into the recruiter’s office, it wasn’t, ‘Can I convince you to join me?’ It was, ‘Do you have what it takes to be me?’ Now, it’s more about changing the perspective of recruitment to make people feel comfortable coming into the military, when in fact, what we should be doing is telling them, ‘We doubt you have what it takes, but if you want to come prove it, we’ll give you that chance.’ We are human beings; we have an element that we need to experience the unknown and we need to be challenged. We need to see adventure. We need to see joining the military as stepping out into the world in a dramatically different way, and I think that for whatever reason, the narrative has shifted from that and the numbers are showing it.
USVM: How do you also think that we, as American civilians, can help veterans like you feel like your sacrifice was worth it in times like these?
JJ: I tell people all the time don’t thank me for my service, just be a population worth serving. It’s hard to answer that question without jumping headfirst into politics and none of us agree on that, but I would just take a step back and just say that gratitude goes a long way. Personal responsibility goes a long way. I want to serve a population that gets up in the morning and works as hard as I did to serve it. That’s all I want from it. I think that’s all anybody ever served wanted—was to come home to a place that appreciated it in the day-to-day, not just on Veterans Day or Memorial Day.
Joey Jones is a FOX News Contributor and FOX Nation Host.
If you are a transitioning service member applying for VA disability compensation under the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) or the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) program, there are some changes coming that you should know about.
Starting April 1, you will be required to complete and submit the Part A Self-Assessment of a new Separation Health Assessment (SHA) with your BDD or IDES application.
The SHA is a single separation examination which supports both the VA disability compensation process and the Department of Defense (DoD) separation/retirement process.
The SHA examination documents any medical concerns identified during your military career, assists with identifying future illnesses, and reduces redundant examinations between both agencies.
The SHA is divided into three Parts:
Part A – medical history questionnaire. You must complete Part A prior to attending your clinical assessment;
Part B – clinical assessment. This is where the examiner will review your Part A and your Service Treatment Records (STRs), provide an examination, and then deliver a clinical assessment;
Part C – this is reserved for DoD reviewer purposes only. DoD is expected to fully begin using the SHA later this year.
BDD claimants who submit applications online can upload the completed Part A with their STRs under the evidence section. After VA receives and reviews the application, STRs, and completed Part A Self-Assessment, an SHA examination will be requested. The SHA clinical assessment will be conducted by one of VA’s contracted examiners or a local VA health care examiner. All evidence submitted by the service member will be made available electronically to the examiner.
The new SHA is a multi-year collaborative effort between both agencies to improve the separation examination process for service members exiting the military.
After serving in the Marines for six years, including a tour in Afghanistan, Cole Lyle returned home and suffered severe PTSD, social isolation, and difficulty reintegrating into civilian life.
In his own words, “Coming home really was just the lowest point in my life, and I was two pounds of trigger pull away from being one of the statistics – a veteran’s suicide statistic – if it had not been for another Marine that intervened.”
Determined to overcome his struggles, Cole requested a service dog from the VA to provide emotional support. However, after months of waiting, the VA denied his request. Cole then paid over $10,000 out of his own pocket to secure his famous service dog, Kaya, who has become his constant companion and best friend.
Now serving as the Executive Director of Mission Roll Call, Cole is dedicated to advocating on Capitol Hill for the 18 million veterans across the U.S. and to ending veteran suicide through holistic care, community integration, and greater access to quality healthcare.
Steven Culp turned 18 only nine days after 9/11. “I felt the call to serve immediately after that event,” said Culp.
He served six years in the Navy as an electronic warfare technician and a cryptologic technician.
After his enlistment, Culp enrolled in college and earned a degree in engineering. But his wartime service had changed him, and after seeking help from the VA, he was enrolled in their Veteran Readiness and Employment program.
“At the job fair, there was just about every profession you could think of: engineering; software; technicians for electronics, mechanics or engines; law enforcement. There are opportunities for just about everything there,” said Culp. “With the skills that are built in the military, there is something for every veteran.”
Though he had interviewed with several companies, there was one in particular with whom Culp wanted to connect.
“I was first introduced to Fluke when I was on active duty in the Navy. I used their multimeters for all kinds of tests around the shop, making sure our gear was in spec and working correctly,” he said. “When I saw their logo at the job fair, I went over and spoke with them. Turns out the two gentlemen there recruiting were former Navy. They took a look at my resume and my experience and they said, ‘Can you start on Monday?’”
Culp accepted a position as a service engineer with Fluke Corp., a maker of industrial testing and diagnostic equipment.
“Steven’s story is an excellent example of securing meaningful employment through participation in a DAV job fair,” said DAV National Employment Director Rob Lougee. “Separating service members, veterans and their spouses should take the time to check out our employment resources at jobs.dav.org.”
“They can find everything from our full schedule of in-person and virtual job fairs to resources for entrepreneurs.”
DAV job fairs and employment resources provide veterans and their spouses with the prospect of an exciting career path.
“This opportunity means the world to me,” he said. “It’s truly a second chance. I’m eternally grateful to the VA and DAV for the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Starting Jan. 17, Veterans in acute suicidal crisis will be able to go to any VA or non-VA health care facility for emergency health care at no cost – including inpatient or crisis residential care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA system to use this benefit.
This expansion of care will help prevent Veteran suicide by guaranteeing no cost, world-class care to Veterans in times of crisis. It will also increase access to acute suicide care for up to 9 million Veterans who are not currently enrolled in VA.
Preventing Veteran suicide is VA’s top clinical priority and a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration. This effort is a key part of VA’s 10-year National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide and the Biden-Harris administration’s plan for Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide. In September, VA released the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, which showed that Veteran suicides decreased in 2020 for the second year in a row, and that fewer Veterans died by suicide in 2020 than in any year since 2006.
“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. “This expansion of care will save Veterans’ lives, and there’s nothing more important than that.”
VA has submitted an interim final rule to the federal register to establish this authority under section 201 of the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act of 2020. The final policy, which takes effect on Jan. 17, will allow VA to:
-Provide, pay for, or reimburse for treatment of eligible individuals’ emergency suicide care, transportation costs, and follow-up care at a VA or non-VA facility for up to 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care.
-Make appropriate referrals for care following the period of emergency suicide care.
-Determine eligibility for other VA services and benefits.
-Refer eligible individuals for appropriate VA programs and benefits following the period of emergency suicide care.
Eligible individuals, regardless of VA enrollment status, are:
-Veterans who were discharged or released from active duty after more than 24 months of active service under conditions other than dishonorable.
-Former members of the armed forces, including reserve service members, 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.
-Former members of the armed forces who were the victim of a physical assault of a sexual nature, a battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment while serving in the armed forces.
Over the past year, VA has announced or continued several additional efforts to end Veteran suicide, including establishing 988 (then press 1) as a way for Veterans to quickly connect with caring, qualified crisis support 24/7; proposing a new rule that would reduce or eliminate copayments for Veterans at risk of suicide; conducting an ongoing public outreach effort on firearm suicide prevention and lethal means safety; and leveraging a national Veteran suicide prevention awareness campaign, “Don’t Wait. Reach Out.”
If you’re a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive 24/7 confidential support. You don’t have to be enrolled in VA benefits or health care to connect. To reach responders, Dial 988 then Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text 838255.