VA proposes to cut copayments for veterans at high risk for suicide
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to drop copayments for medical appointments and medication for veterans considered at high risk for suicide.
When Miranda Briggs, found of the Fight the War Within Foundation, learned about the VA’s proposal to eliminate copayment expenses, she believed it could be a step in the right direction but says the fight doesn’t end here.
“I think that it’s good that they’re having these conversations, but the VA has been historically very slow to make changes within anything in their system,” she said.
“By the time a veteran says, I’m having thoughts like this, that doesn’t mean they should take their time to help them. There should be more urgency.”
Urgency that could’ve helped her husband, Army Veteran Garrett Briggs, who took his own life back in 2018. She says she didn’t know about his struggles until she looked at his medical records after he died, but the VA knew.
“So, when I got it and saw that he was reaching out, I was so proud of him,” she said.
“However, at the same time, I was heartbreaking because I realized how alone he felt. Reaching out to multiple providers and not having them do anything, that had to have been a horrible feeling for him.”
Even if you are listed at high risk, copayments can be very expensive because you’re going through an outside healthcare provider from the VA.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough says by eliminating copayments, this may encourage vets to seek care altogether or more often.
While nothing is official, Briggs argues that action is necessary and encourages any veteran experiencing suicidal thoughts to find help through outside resources.
“We really urge now for people to check in on their friends,” she said.
“Be more direct and ask people if they’re struggling and if they’re having thoughts of ending their own life. Have more of those candid conversations if you feel something is not right with someone.”
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