United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Jul 15, 2020
Mental and behavioral health care for certain former members of the Armed Forces
The Secretary shall furnish to former members of the Armed Forces described in subsection (b)—
an initial mental health assessment; and
the mental healthcare or behavioral healthcare services authorized under this chapter that are required to treat the mental or behavioral health care needs of the former service members, including risk of suicide or harming others.
A former member of the Armed Forces described in this subsection is an individual who—
is a former member of the Armed Forces, including the reserve components;
while serving in the active military, naval, or air service, was discharged or released therefrom under a condition that is not honorable but not—
a dishonorable discharge; or
a discharge by court-martial;
is not enrolled in the health care system established by section 1705 of this title; and
served in the Armed Forces for a period of more than 100 cumulative days; and
was deployed in a theater of combat operations, in support of a contingency operation, or in an area at a time during which hostilities are occurring in that area during such service, including by controlling an unmanned aerial vehicle from a location other than such theater or area; or
while serving in the Armed Forces, was the victim of a physical assault of a sexual nature, a battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment (as defined in section 1720D(f) of this title).
In furnishing mental or behavioral health care services to an individual under this section, the Secretary may provide such mental or behavioral health care services at a non-Department facility if—
in the judgment of a mental health professional employed by the Department, the receipt of mental or behavioral health care services by that individual in facilities of the Department would be clinically inadvisable; or
facilities of the Department are not capable of furnishing such mental or behavioral health care services to that individual economically because of geographical inaccessibility.
The Secretary shall carry out paragraph (1) pursuant to section 1703 of this title or any other provision of law authorizing the Secretary to enter into contracts or agreements to furnish hospital care and medical services to veterans at non-Department facilities.
In furnishing mental and behavioral health care services to individuals under this section, the Secretary shall—
seek to ensure that such services are furnished in settings that are therapeutically appropriate, taking into account the circumstances that resulted in the need for such services; and
provide referral services to assist former members who are not eligible for services under this chapter to obtain services from sources outside the Department.
The Secretary shall provide information on the mental and behavioral health care services available under this section. Efforts by the Secretary to provide such information—
shall include notification of each eligible individual described in subsection (b) about the eligibility of the individual for covered mental and behavioral health care under this section not later than the later of—
180 days after the date of the enactment of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018; or
180 days after the date on which the individual was discharged or released from the active military, naval, or air service;
shall include availability of a toll-free telephone number (commonly referred to as an 800 number);
shall ensure that information about the mental health care services available under this section—
is revised and updated as appropriate;
is made available and visibly posted at appropriate facilities of the Department; and
is made available to State veteran agencies and through appropriate public information services; and
shall include coordination with the Secretary of Defense seeking to ensure that members of the Armed Forces and individuals who are being separated from active military, naval, or air service are provided appropriate information about programs, requirements, and procedures for applying for mental health care services under this section.
Not less frequently than once each year, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the mental and behavioral health care services provided under this section.
Each report submitted under paragraph (1) shall include, with respect to the year preceding the submittal of the report, the following:
The number of eligible individuals who were furnished mental or behavioral health care services under this section, disaggregated by the number of men who received such services and the number of women who received such services.
The number of individuals who requested an initial mental health assessment under subsection (a)(1).
Such other information as the Secretary considers appropriate.
cite as: 38 USC 1720I