U.S. to expand mental health care for some veterans

(Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said on Wednesday that it intends to expand mental health care to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) administrative discharges.

As part of the proposal, former OTH service members will be able to seek treatment at a VA emergency department, Vet Center or contact Veterans Crisis Line, the department said in a statement.

Veterans who receive do not receive an honorable discharge are not eligible for many Veterans Affairs benefits.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said suicide prevention was one of the top priorities for him and U.S. President Donald Trump.

At an event with veterans last year in Virginia during the presidential campaign, Trump called for better mental health services for those returning from combat, saying that while many are “strong,” others “can’t handle” what they have seen on the battlefield.

The department said Shulkin will meet with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and Department of Defense officials before finalizing the plan in early summer.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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