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Navigating the COMPACT Act: Empowering Veterans for a Better Future

Last Updated: December 18, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

In the realm of veterans’ well-being, the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act stands tall as a beacon of hope. When it comes to understanding emergency mental health treatment, understanding the details of this transformative legislation is important. 

Decoding the COMPACT Act 

The COMPACT Act emerges as a powerful tool, explicitly designed to combat the grave issue of veteran suicides. At its core, it empowers veterans in the midst of suicidal crises, granting them immediate access to treatment, whether at VA or non-VA medical facilities. The best part? This emergency treatment comes at no cost, eliminating the need for veterans to be enrolled in VA healthcare. 

For veterans grappling with addiction, the COMPACT Act extends a lifeline. It provides up to 30 days of inpatient care to address issues stemming from suicidal crises, complemented by an additional 90 days of outpatient mental health care. When a suicidal crisis intersects with substance misuse, veterans gain access to follow-up care, be it inpatient or outpatient, all aimed at addressing the root problems. 

Yet, the stark reality of veteran suicides casts a long shadow. A sobering September 2022 report from the VA unveils an alarming 57.3% higher suicide rate among veterans compared to their non-veteran counterparts in the U.S. Tragically, in 2020, the nation witnessed over 6,000 veteran suicides, translating to nearly 17 veteran suicides daily. These statistics show just how essential this new act is. 

Eligibility Criteria for Veteran-Centric Care 

The COMPACT Act opens its doors 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, other than dishonorable, after serving over 100 days under a combat exclusion or as part of a contingency operation. This includes direct service or operating unmanned aerial vehicles from remote locations.
  • Veterans who’ve suffered sexual assault, sexual battery, or sexual harassment during their service.

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

Impact on Veterans Struggling With Addiction

 For veterans living with addiction, the COMPACT Act offers a glimmer of hope. It grants them up to 30 days of inpatient care and an additional 90 days of outpatient care following a suicidal crisis. 

For veterans grappling with substance use disorders, this means immediate access to treatment in either inpatient facilities or outpatient treatment centers. If a veteran receives emergency care, after being discharged home, their subsequent care may involve a blend of individual and group therapy, addressing the underlying addiction involved in the crisis.

Tailored Treatment Plans 

At the heart of the COMPACT Act lies a commitment to personalized care. It ensures that veterans seeking addiction treatment receive tailored treatment plans intentionally designed to address their unique needs.

Embracing Telehealth Options 

The COMPACT Act wholeheartedly embraces telehealth and virtual behavioral health treatment for veterans. This opens doors to participating in outpatient addiction treatment services, such as counseling, right from the comfort and privacy of one’s home. The VA has made a steadfast 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 affirmed its commitment to expediting the review process for any veteran billed for treatment associated with an emergency suicidal crisis. Veterans should never bear the financial burden of emergency suicidal care or the subsequent follow-up care that spans up to 30 days of inpatient treatment or 90 days of continuous outpatient care. 

A Beacon of Hope for Veterans 

The COMPACT Act shines as a beacon of hope, promising a brighter future for veterans. It not only addresses suicidal crises head-on but also allows for free follow-up care to support mental health and reduce the likelihood of future suicidal emergencies. 

By dismantling the stigma that often surrounds seeking help during a mental health crisis and removing the financial barriers that deter veterans from seeking treatment, the COMPACT Act paves the way for improved mental health outcomes among veterans nationwide.

Empowering Veterans on Their Recovery Journey

More than just a piece of legislation, the COMPACT Act instills hope. It offers unwavering support to veterans during both suicidal crises and the subsequent follow-up period post-emergency treatment.

Furthermore, the act empowers veterans by granting them the autonomy to choose their treatment location. They have the freedom to opt for care at a community treatment center of their choice, whether inpatient or outpatient, ensuring veterans have a say in their care, even if they prefer 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 are readily available. Taking the first step towards recovery means reaching out for help today. Across the nation, veteran-specific programs have been specially designed to cater to your unique needs.

One such program is the FORTITUDE program, accessible at select facilities. It offers specialized treatment tailored to address the distinctive needs of veterans and first responders. This program includes:

  • Compassionate licensed clinicians well-versed in military and veteran culture
  • Exclusive group therapy sessions, fostering camaraderie among veterans and first responders
  • Trauma-informed care, including proven therapies such as 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 vital help you deserve.


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