It’s no secret that military veterans are a population with some of the highest rates of mental illness. This can take the form of PTSD, depression, and even substance use. In fact, their mental health struggles are often contributing factors in developing a substance use disorder as well. Unfortunately, paying for rehab or mental healthcare services can be an obstacle for many people who need help. In order to help those who have served our country, there are a number of healthcare coverage options available to veterans with benefits that cover paying for rehab and other physical and mental health issues.
There are two healthcare routes available to veterans: TRICARE and the Veterans Health Care Program. Each option has its own requirements to qualify and different benefits to consider.
Veterans Health Care
The Veterans health care program is offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Care is provided primarily through VA medical centers throughout the United States. A wide range of healthcare providers and treatments are available including substance use treatment. Services for veterans with substance use disorders include medication options, counseling, therapy, residential care, and dual diagnosis treatment.
Qualifying for VA Health Care
This healthcare option is available to most individuals who served in the active military, naval, or air service and did not receive a dishonorable discharge. More specifically, you are eligible if:
- You enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, you must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty unless any of the descriptions below are true for you.
This minimum duty requirement may not apply if any of these are true. You:
- Were discharged for a disability that was caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service, or
- Were discharged for a hardship or “early out,” or
- Served prior to September 7, 1980
- You’re a current or former member of the Reserves or National Guard, you must have been called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty. If you had or have active-duty status for training purposes only, you don’t qualify for VA health care.
Go to https://www.va.gov/health-care/eligibility/ to learn more about eligibility.
TRICARE is a health insurance option provided by the U.S. Department of Defense. Coverage is available to uniformed service members, retirees, and their families anywhere in the world. This means that not only can retired service members receive healthcare coverage but so can their loved ones. Access to healthcare for veteran’s loved ones is particularly beneficial for those who struggle with substance use because addiction is a family disease. When both parents and children have healthcare coverage, they are all able to receive the support they need to heal and improve their quality of life.
Qualifying for TRICARE
If you fall under one of these categories, you may be eligible for healthcare coverage through TRICARE:
- Uniformed service members and their families
- National Guard/Reserve members and their families
- Former spouses
- Medal of Honor recipients and their families
- Others registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)
Plan options and benefits may vary due to your determined beneficiary status. To learn more go to https://www.tricare.mil/Plans/Eligibility.
Getting Urgent Mental Health Care
Substance use can lead to dire situations where urgent care is needed, whether the issue is physical or psychological. If you or your loved one is a veteran in need of immediate mental health care, you have a few options. The Veteran’s Crisis Line is available 24/7 via phone, text, or chat:
- Call 800-273-8255, then select 1.
- Start a confidential chat.
- Text 838255.
- If you have hearing loss, call TTY: 800-799-4889.
Additionally, you can always go to the nearest VA medical center, emergency room, or call 911.