Comprehensive Guide to the COMPACT Act: A Lifeline for Veterans

Last Updated: December 18, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

The Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment (COMPACT) Act offers vital emergency services to veterans. Understanding the specifics of this act is crucial if you or a veteran in your life requires emergency mental health treatment.

What Is the COMPACT Act? 

The COMPACT Act is a groundbreaking initiative aimed at reducing suicide rates among veterans. It provides veterans in a suicidal crisis with immediate treatment options, available at both VA and non-VA medical facilities. Importantly, this emergency treatment is free of charge, and veterans do not need to be enrolled in VA healthcare to access this life-saving benefit.

For veterans seeking addiction treatment, the COMPACT Act holds promise. It grants them up to 30 days of inpatient treatment related to a suicidal crisis and 90 days of outpatient mental health care. Should a suicidal crisis be related to substance misuse, veterans can access follow-up care, either inpatient or outpatient, to address the underlying issue.

This act addresses the pressing issue of veteran suicides, which continue to trouble our nation. According to a September 2022 report from the VA, the suicide rate among veterans is 57.3% higher than that of non-veteran adults in the U.S. Shockingly, in 2020 alone, there were over 6,000 veteran suicides, equating to nearly 17 veteran suicide deaths per day.

Eligibility for Veteran-Centric Care 

To access services under the COMPACT Act, veterans must meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Discharge from active duty after at least 24 months of active service under any condition aside from dishonorable discharge.
  • Discharge under conditions aside from dishonorable discharge after serving over 100 days under a combat exclusion or as part of a contingency operation. This can include direct service or operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle from another location.
  • Being a victim of sexual assault, sexual battery, or sexual harassment while in the service.

Meeting any of these criteria entitles veterans to comprehensive suicide care, covering treatment, transportation costs, and follow-up care. These services can be provided at a VA facility or a community health center.

Impact on Veterans With Addiction 

The COMPACT Act, with its provision for follow-up care during suicidal crises, offers a lifeline to veterans grappling with addiction. It allows veterans to receive up to 30 days of inpatient care and 90 days of outpatient care following such crises. 

For veterans contending with substance use disorders, this means they can access treatment in either inpatient facilities or outpatient treatment centers after receiving emergency care for a suicidal crisis. For instance, if a veteran receives emergency treatment, upon being discharged home, their follow-up care may involve a combination of individual and group therapy to address the underlying addiction contributing to the crisis.

Personalized Treatment Plans 

At its core, the COMPACT Act emphasizes the importance of tailored care. It ensures that veterans seeking addiction treatment receive customized treatment plans designed to address their unique needs.

Telehealth Options 

Veterans also gain the option of telehealth or virtual behavioral health treatment. This opens the door to participating in outpatient addiction treatment services such as counseling from the comfort and privacy of their homes. The VA is steadfast in its commitment to delivering telehealth services to veterans, ensuring they can access essential care from anywhere. 

Reducing Bureaucratic Hurdles 

Under the COMPACT Act, veterans encounter fewer barriers when accessing necessary care. The act mandates the VA to facilitate referrals, as needed, for follow-up care following treatment for a suicidal crisis. This streamlines the process and ensures that veterans receive crucial behavioral health treatment without undue obstacles.

Furthermore, the VA has committed to expediting the review process for any veteran who receives a bill for treatment related to an emergency suicidal crisis. Veterans should not bear the financial burden of emergency suicidal care or follow-up care, which can encompass up to 30 days of inpatient treatment or 90 days of ongoing outpatient care.

A Positive Impact on Veterans’ Lives 

The COMPACT Act’s influence on veterans is overwhelmingly positive, enhancing access to crucial care and linking veterans to the services they need. Beyond addressing suicidal crises, the COMPACT Act ensures that veterans receive ongoing treatment to enhance their mental health and reduce the risk of future suicidal emergencies.

This act plays a pivotal role in diminishing the stigma surrounding help-seeking during a mental health crisis while removing numerous cost-related barriers that veterans face when seeking treatment. With improved access to care, the mental well-being of veterans should improve.

Empowering Veterans on the Road to Recovery 

In addition to offering essential services, the COMPACT Act instills a sense of hope. Veterans in need receive support during both suicidal crises and the subsequent follow-up period after emergency treatment.

The act empowers veterans by granting them the choice of treatment location within a community treatment center of their preference, whether inpatient or outpatient. This empowers veterans to take charge of their care, even if they opt not to receive treatment at a VA medical facility.

Taking the First Step: Seek Help Today 

For veterans seeking treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, the VA’s services are readily available. Take the first step towards recovery by reaching out for help today. Nationwide, there are veteran-specific programs tailored to meet your unique needs.

One such program is the FORTITUDE program at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper Drug and Alcohol Rehab, providing specialized treatment designed to address the unique needs of veterans and first responders. This program includes:

  • Licensed clinicians trained in military and veteran culture.
  • Exclusive group therapy sessions for veterans and first responders.
  • Trauma-informed care, including CPT and EMDR therapy.

The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper is a proud member of the VA Community Care Network and can accept VA health insurance. Our Veteran Advocates stand ready to assist you or a veteran you care about in navigating the VA approval process and securing the help you need.

Veteran Recovery Is Our Mission

Our Veteran Advocates can help you navigate your VA health insurance and get you the help you need. At The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper, our FORTITUDE specialty track for veterans and first responders offers:


  • Exclusive group therapy sessions with your peers
  • Experienced clinicians trained in military culture and veteran-specific care
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders to treat addiction and mental health disorders together  
  • EMDR: A revolutionary treatment that alleviates trauma symptoms

Sources

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

Cammackhouse.gov. “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.

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