OPINION: New help for veterans in crisis

If you are a veteran in crisis or concerned about someone who is, help is here. In January, the new COMPACT Act went into effect across the U.S. The COMPACT Act is the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care and Treatment legislation. The Act allows all honorably discharged veterans who are experiencing a suicidal crisis to go to any mental health care facility for no-cost treatment. Veterans do not need to be enrolled to use this benefit.

This provision makes critical, and potentially lifesaving, support available to the members of our dedicated veteran community who have served our nation.

The COMPACT Act allows the Veterans Administration to:

• Provide, pay for or reimburse 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 referrals for care following the period of emergency suicide care.

Why this matters: This expansion of access to care is designed to help prevent veteran suicide by guaranteeing no-cost behavioral health care in times of crisis. It will also increase access to suicide care for up to 9 million veterans who are not currently enrolled in VA.

Don’t wait. Help is available. We are listening.


If someone is experiencing an emotional crisis or thoughts of suicide, 24/7 assessments are available by contacting us directly. Further, public helplines include:

• 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that provides 24/7 no-cost and confidential support for individuals in distress, including prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. Simply call or text 988, or chat 988lifeline.org.

• The Veterans Crisis Line for U.S. Military Veterans, call 988, press 1.

• Trevor Lifeline, the only national 24/7 lifeline for LGBTQ youth, is reached at 1-866-488-7386.

As a behavioral health care provider right here in Anchorage, our team at Chris Kyle Patriots Hospital is dedicated to being there in a manner that promotes hope, resiliency, connectedness and recovery.

Patrick Wilder is the CEO/managing director of North Star Behavioral Health.

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