Opening Pandora’s box: VA Announces People With Other-Than-Honorable Discharges Can Receive Emergency Mental Care After July 5
Beginning the day after this Fourth of July, veterans with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges from military service — or what’s often called “bad paper” — can soon receive emergency mental health care from a VA emergency room, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced Tuesday.
It is the first time a VA Secretary has implemented an initiative specifically focused on this group of former service members who are in mental health distress, the VA said in a statement.
“Suicide prevention is my top clinical priority,” said Shulkin. “We want these former service members to know there is someplace they can turn if they are facing a mental health emergency — whether it means urgent care at a VA emergency department, a Vet Center or through the Veterans Crisis Line.”
Beginning July 5, former service members who received an OTH administration discharge from the military can go to all Veteran Health Administration (VHA) medical centers to receive care for mental health emergencies for an initial period of up to 90 days.[…]
VVA said in a statement that previous VA secretaries had allowed the denying of healthcare to veterans with so-called “bad-paper” discharges to “fester.”
That was because the VA defined the term “veteran” as a person who had served in the active military, and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable. That regulation denied care for hundreds of thousands of veterans who meet the definition of “veteran,” the VVA said.
VVA cited a Brown University Study released on June 20 that said six percent of the entire veteran population of this era could not receive health care due to OTH discharges, and that most of those were from “minor disciplinary infractions” that were “symptomatic of trauma sustained during military service.”