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Veterans now have more options for care when in suicidal crisis

Terri McCarthy
If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing a suicidal thoughts, you can dial 988 for help. Veterans can press "1" for a special line.

Starting this week, veterans experiencing a suicidal crisis can find more ways to get help.

The new law went into effect Tuesday.

“We want to broaden our care, make sure that we are reaching everyone and again, this includes some of our most rural areas, such as northern Michigan,” said Tara Consolino, suicide prevention program manager in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans will be covered for 30 days of inpatient care and up to 90 days of outpatient care at any VA clinic or private facility of their choosing.

Consolino said she knows people in northern Michigan might have limited access to care, and this new law aims to help that.

"We’re also aware that we do have a significant portion of individuals who were previously not seeking care who will now be able to benefit from simply being able to go to the nearest and closest for emergency medical or mental health care without the fear of billing,” she said.

The program will also pay for transportation. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in the VA system to access the benefit.

Tyler Thompson is a reporter at Interlochen Public Radio.