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Elevating Veterans’ Well-being: Unpacking the COMPACT Act and Its Impact on Veteran-Centric Care

Written by Melissa Carmona

& Medically Reviewed by Jenni Jacobsen, LSW

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.
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The Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act emerged as a lifeline for veterans in critical need of care. In times of emergency mental health crises, comprehending the intricacies of this act is important.

About the COMPACT Act 

The COMPACT Act is a transformative initiative dedicated to combating the alarming rates of suicide among veterans. It extends a lifeline to veterans in suicidal crises, enabling them to receive immediate treatment from either a VA or non-VA medical facility. Importantly, this emergency treatment comes at no cost, eliminating the need for veterans to be enrolled in VA healthcare to access this critical benefit. 

For veterans grappling with addiction, the COMPACT Act emerges as a promising development. It offers up to 30 days of inpatient treatment for issues related to suicidal crises and an additional 90 days of outpatient mental health care. When a suicidal crisis traces back to substance misuse, veterans gain access to follow-up care, be it inpatient or outpatient, aimed at addressing the underlying problem.

According to a September 2022 report from the VA, veterans face a staggering 57.3% higher suicide rate compared to non-veteran adults in the U.S. Tragically, in 2020, over 6,000 veteran suicides were recorded, translating to nearly 17 veteran suicides each day. 

Eligibility Criteria for Veteran-Centric Care 

The COMPACT Act extends its services to veterans meeting at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Discharge from active duty after a minimum of 24 months of active service, under any condition except dishonorable discharge.
  • Discharge, aside from dishonorable, after serving over 100 days under a combat exclusion or as part of a contingency operation. This includes direct service or operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle from another location.
  • Victims of sexual assault, sexual battery, or sexual harassment while in the service.

Veterans who fulfill any of these criteria are entitled to comprehensive suicide care, encompassing treatment, transportation costs, and follow-up care. These services can be sought at either a VA facility or a community health center.

Impact on Veterans Struggling With Addiction 

The COMPACT Act, with its provisions for follow-up care after suicidal crises, emerges as a ray of hope for veterans impacted by addiction. It provides up to 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care following such crises. 

For veterans contending with substance use disorders, this translates into the possibility of seeking treatment in either inpatient facilities or outpatient treatment centers immediately after receiving emergency care for a suicidal crisis. For instance, if a veteran receives emergency treatment, upon being discharged home, their subsequent care might entail a combination of individual and group therapy to tackle the underlying addiction contributing to the crisis.

Tailored Treatment Plans 

At its core, the COMPACT Act champions the value of personalized care. It ensures that veterans seeking addiction treatment receive customized treatment plans intentionally designed to address their unique needs.

Embracing Telehealth Options 

The COMPACT Act is part of the era of telehealth or virtual behavioral health treatment for veterans. This opens the door to engaging in outpatient addiction treatment services like counseling right from the comfort and privacy of one’s home. The VA has made a commitment to delivering telehealth services to veterans, ensuring they can access essential care from virtually anywhere.

Changing Bureaucratic Hurdles 

Under the COMPACT Act, veterans encounter fewer obstacles when seeking the care they need. The act mandates the VA to streamline referrals, as necessary, for follow-up care after treatment for a suicidal crisis. This simplifies the process and guarantees that veterans receive critical behavioral health treatment without unnecessary roadblocks. 

Moreover, the VA has committed to expediting the review process for any veteran who receives a bill for treatment associated with an emergency suicidal crisis. Veterans should not bear the financial burden of emergency suicidal care or follow-up care, which can span up to 30 days of inpatient treatment or 90 days of continuous outpatient care.

A Brighter Future for Veterans 

In sum, the COMPACT Act brings about a positive transformation in the lives of veterans by enhancing their access to essential care and surrounding them with support when they need it most. Beyond addressing suicidal crises, the act provides veterans with  free ongoing treatment, aimed at improving their mental health and mitigating the risk of future suicidal emergencies.

By dismantling the stigma associated with seeking help during a mental health crisis and removing the financial barriers that often deter veterans from seeking treatment, the COMPACT Act promises to improve the mental well-being of veterans across the nation.

Empowering Veterans on the Road to Recovery 

The COMPACT Act not only offers crucial services but also instills hope. Veterans in need receive support during both suicidal crises and the subsequent follow-up period after emergency treatment.

The act empowers veterans by granting them the autonomy to choose their treatment location from a roster of community treatment centers, whether on an inpatient or outpatient basis. This autonomy ensures veterans have a say in their care, even if they opt for non-VA medical facilities.

Take the First Step: Seek Help Today 

For veterans grappling with addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, the VA’s services stand ready to assist. The first step towards recovery is reaching out for help today. Across the nation, veteran-specific programs have been meticulously designed  to cater to your unique needs.

One such program is the FORTITUDE program, available at select facilities. This program offers specialized treatment designed to address the distinctive needs of veterans and first responders. This program features:

  • Licensed clinicians trained in military and veteran culture.
  • Exclusive group therapy sessions catering to veterans and first responders.
  • Trauma-informed care, including therapies like CPT and EMDR therapy.

The Recovery Village facilities proudly participate in the VA Community Care Network and are equipped to accept VA health insurance. Our Veteran Advocates are poised to assist you or a veteran in your life in navigating the VA approval process, ensuring you receive the help you deserve.

View Sources

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “COMPACT Act expands free emergency suicide care for Veterans.” February 1, 2023. Accessed September 27, 2023. 

Cammackhouse.gov. “COMPACT Act Section 201 Overview.” January 20, 2023. Accessed September 27, 2023. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.” September 2022. Accessed September 27, 2023. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Welcome to VA Telehealth Services.” Accessed September 27, 2023. 

GovTrack. “H.R. 8247 (116th): Veterans COMPACT Act of 2020.” January 26, 2021. Accessed September 27, 2023.