Veterans with a less than honorable discharge can receive emergency mental health treatment at VA medical centers across the U.S.
Gabrielle Dawkins stopped by the Carl Vinson Medical Center in Dublin to find out more about the policy's impact on Central Georgians.
Marion Owens describes dealing with PTSD, something he's battled since 1974 after joining the Navy.
“If I hear a bang, I'lll jerk,” says Owens.“It sparks a lot of veterans -- car going by, banging, someone hollering or someone throwing something.”
Diane Webb, the Suicide Coordinator at the Carl Vinson Medical Center says, “A lot of our veterans may have been experiencing mental health problems while they were in service that may not have been recognized.”
Starting July 5th, veterans who were other than honorably discharged can receive care for their mental health emergency for free.
“The suicide rate of veterans now are 20 a day. Fourteen of those are not using VA services and since other than honorable discharged veterans are not using VA Services than that automatically puts them at a greater risk of suicide,” says Webb.
Webb says the importance is high.
“Since other than honorable discharged veterans are not using VA Services, then that automatically puts them at a greater risk of suicide,” says Webb.
Throughout Owens years with dealing with PTSD, he has learned several coping skills, one of which is breathing.
“If you're breathing you calm down. You take some deep breaths and calm down and you concentrate on your breathing, it'll help bring your anxiety down,” says Owens.
Although that anxiety is one hurdle in his race, he says he wouldn't take it back for the ones he loves.
“Non-military people can’t understand that a person like me will put themselves in a line of fire to protect someone they don't even know,” says Owens.
If you or a veteran you know is struggling with mental health, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.
For more information click here.