Addiction and Mental Health in the Military
It is no secret that substance abuse and concurrent mental health disorders are quite common in the military veteran population. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, close to 4 million veterans nationwide had a mental health and/or substance use disorder in 2018. Exposure to death and serious injury, living under constant fear and pressure, and prolonged separation from family and loved ones all contribute to stress and anxiety. This leads to a desperate search for ways to ease the pain and soften the edge. Veterans may also be dealing with chronic pain from injuries sustained on the battlefield and develop addictions and dependence to painkillers and opioids. All too often, this means turning to addictive substances and alcohol.
Mental health conditions are sadly common in the veteran population as well. PTSD, Depression, and other serious disorders can develop from the stresses of battle and military involvement. Making sure they can get proper help is the least we can do for our men in uniform who have given so much of themselves for our safety.
Ignoring an ongoing substance abuse disorder allows dependence to develop into full blown addiction. Veterans return home and struggle to reintegrate into society. Relationships fray, post-military careers stall and the pain only increases.
The Department of VA Affairs and the Community Care Network
The good news is that addiction treatment resources for the military is available. The United States Department of Veteran Affairs is part of the executive branch and a cabinet level department. They are responsible for making healthcare available for military veterans that are eligible. The VA operates over 1700 medical centers and outpatient clinics across the country. Addiction treatment facilities are Benefits can also be accessed at private providers through the Veterans Affairs Community Care Network. In the event that a VA facility is unavailable in a particular area, treatment facilities in the VA network, known as the CCN, can help.
The state of military veterans in Louisiana.
As of 2019, there were nearly 300,000 veterans living in Louisiana. A significant portion of them are dealing with serious mental health and addiction issues. It is very concerning to note that 11 percent of homeless people in the state come from the veteran population. Homelessness has long been linked to addiction and mental health disorders. The importance of veterans understanding the benefits and treatment available in Louisiana through the VA CCN cannot be understated. It is the easiest way for our military personnel to begin to transition to civilian life with the care and help they so richly deserve.
Are you eligible for VA insurance coverage?
Veterans Affairs healthcare program are here to give American military personnel the healthcare and retirement benefits they need to successfully transition to civilian life. They spent a good portion of their formative years under the threat of injury and death on our behalf. Our veterans deserve the ability to go on with their lives, with their health protected and medical needs spoken for.
All veterans who have served in any branch of the military, including roles in the Army, Navy, or Air Force are eligible to enroll in the VA CCN. An exception is when someone was dishonorably discharged. Former and current members of the National Guard and Reserve who were called to active duty and are also qualified to take advantage of the VA healthcare benefits.
Minimum duty requirements
If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, or you began active duty after October 16, 1981, service time for eligibility is 24 consecutive months or the full time period that you were called for active duty. A member of the military who served before these dates is eligible with no minimum time requirements. In the event that a veteran was discharged by a disability sustained or aggravated by your service, these minimums do not apply. Other exceptions include hardship discharges. This means an immediate family member is experiencing medical, psychological, or financial issues of a severe nature.
Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment
An important element of VA healthcare benefits is mental health and addiction treatment. They are often crucial to a veteran’s wellness. These treatments are no different than physical medicine and are covered by the VA.
All phases of addiction treatment are offered by the VA and their networks. Medically managed detoxification, inpatient and outpatient programs, relapse prevention counseling and other crucial programs to sustain addiction and substance abuse recovery are included.
Navigating The Community Care Network (CCN) for Veterans Affairs in Louisiana
In 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched the Community Care Network (CCN). The CCN is designed to provide healthcare options to veterans in areas and in circumstances where a VA facility is not available. The network is split into four regions and in Louisiana is administrated by a third party administrator (TPA) called Optum.
The process to understanding eligibility and gaining proper referrals can seem intimidating but there is nothing to fear! At Townsend and Avenues of Metairie, we are committed to helping Louisiana veterans navigate the eligibility, application, and referral process of the VA CCN. Reach out to our admissions team and they will engage in obtaining a referral, make sure you are eligible for CCN benefits, and walk you through the admissions process.
Determining a Veterans eligibility for the CCN
A veteran looking to use a local community provider through his VA benefits needs to meet one of the following six requirements.
- Candidate requires services not provided at VA medical facilities
- Candidate resides in a state or territory without a full-service VA Facility
- Candidate meets the standards to fall under the “Grandfather” clause of distance eligibility for the VCP.
- Care cannot be provided at a VA facility without exceeding average driving or wait time standards.
- It is decided that it is in the candidate’s best interest to use a community provider.
- It is decided that a specific service line at the local VA facility does not meet the VA standards
As mentioned above, our team at Avenues can help you wade your way through this. Upon contacting us, we will immediately get to work ensuring that the benefits coming to you gets to you!
For more details and information on each of these criteria take a look here.
What Veterans need to know before they use a CCN provider
- In most cases, a veteran must receive approval from the VA before scheduling appointments with CCN members
- Veterans need to be enrolled in the VA
- A veterans eligibility will continue to be assessed per his or her personal healthcare needs and situation.
- Eligibility decisions are generally made by VA representatives
How can Veterans find an approved community provider?
An eligible military vet can select the provider of his choice as long as they are a member of the VA network. They can also ask for a VA staff member’s assistance in finding one.
Use the VA facility locator on their site to see if the provider you are choosing is part of the VA CCN. https://www.va.gov/find-locations/
A listing of VA facilities offering treatment for addiction and mental health in Louisiana can be found here.
The VA also offers assistance in scheduling appointments. Scheduling your own appointment and informing the VA is also an option.
Do VA healthcare benefits require copays?
In normal times, it depends on whether the condition being treated is classified as service related. However, it is important to note that due to Covid-19 and the ensuing pandemic, the federal government has passed a law waiving all veterans affairs copays, regardless of condition. This waiver currently extends until September of 2021.
Can Veterans Affairs Beneficiaries access Tricare?
The Department of Veterans Affairs is a cabinet level agency tasked with providing benefits and and support for military veterans in their time after service. The VA provides health care through its medical facilities and clinics across the country. Since 1995 every Veterans Affairs’ health care facility has been part of the Tricare network. This means that they are able to service all Tricare members, including Active-Duty personnel, retirees and their families on a space available basis. This is true for both primary and specialty care.
For a broad review of Tricare and its benefits see here.
Townsend LA and Avenues at Metairie- A proud member of the VA CCN in Louisiana
Townsend LA and Avenues of Metairie are proud of the commitment we have made to the mental wellness and addiction recovery of veterans in Louisiana. Two sister locations positioned to serve the state’s military personnel. Our staff and community understand the unique challenges facing those who have sacrificed so much for residents of this country. As members of the CCN, we offer a place to gain the peace of mind and pathway to healing our veterans deserve. Find personalized treatment plans and a full embrace from a community that is achieving miracles. Contact us today!