The MISSION Act allows eligible and qualified veterans to receive treatment through community care providers when they can’t access care through a local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility.
Eligible and qualified veterans and retired service members may be able to access treatment for substance use disorders from a community care provider (CCP) when VA rehabilitation treatment programs are not available to provide care, or for a few other reasons.
In this article you’ll learn more about:
- What the MISSION Act is and its connection to community care providers.
- How you can access addiction treatment care through a CCP.
- How to obtain treatment at the VA and why the VA may not have the ability to treat each veteran with a mental health disorder or substance use disorder.
What Is The VA MISSION Act?
The MISSION Act is a program that provides increased access to healthcare for veterans who aren’t able to get the care they need from a local VA.1 Eligibility criteria based on health needs and circumstances determine whether a veteran qualifies for this program.1
To utilize this program, authorization must be granted from the VA before seeking care from a community provider to avoid incurring a bill.1
The Veterans Choice Program (VCP), a community care program that predated the MISSION Act, expired as of June 2019.1, 2 The MISSION Act sought to increase access to care and, in doing so, allowed for the creation of the Community Care program, which replaces the VCP and expands community treatment options1, 2
Military veterans or retired service members who were eligible for the VCP or meet criteria for the MISSION Act can continue to receive community care.1, 2
Through the MISSION Act, veterans can receive treatment from community care providers. Keep reading to learn about what community care providers are and how you can use them for treatment.
Using VA Community Care Network Providers for Rehab
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is a government agency that receives an annual budget from Congress to fund care for veterans. While the VA may have the funding to pay for care:
- They may not have the ability to provide certain types of care in their facilities.
- Veterans may live too far from a VA center to receive care.
- There may not be space at the VA facility to accommodate treatment within a reasonable amount of time.
In other instances, retired service members prefer to receive treatment that is outside of the VA. In these cases, veterans may qualify to receive treatment from community care partners through the MISSION Act. It’s important to note that:1
- Eligibility for community care is based on the unique health needs and/or circumstances of the veteran.
- The retired service member must obtain approval from the VA before receiving care from a community provider.
- Veterans are required to be enrolled in VA healthcare or eligible for VA health care without having to enroll.
- VA staff determine whether a veteran is eligible for community care.
VA Community Care Eligibility & Requirements
Following approval for community care, one of the following 6 conditions must be met:1
- The veteran requires a service that isn’t available at a VA medical center.
- No full-service VA medical facilities are located in the veteran’s home state.
- The veteran is “grandfathered” in under VCP eligibility (lived more than 40 miles away from the nearest VA medical center on June 6, 2018 and continues to live in a location that meets that criteria). In addition, the veteran would need to reside in Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wyoming; or live in a different state, had received care between June 6, 2017, and June 6, 2018, and need care before June 6, 2020.
- The VA is unable to provide care within specific standards that have been designated. This means further than an average 30-minute drive and/or a wait time that exceeds 20 days to be admitted to a VA rehab center.
- It is in the best medical interest of the veteran to see a community care provider rather than receiving treatment at the VA.
- A specific service line at the VA isn’t meeting standards for quality based on certain conditions.
After a veteran’s eligibility is verified, they can either work with VA staff to find an in-network community care provider or find one independently using the VA Facility Locator.1
Once a provider is chosen, an appointment can be scheduled directly or with the assistance of VA staff.1 Notify a VA staff member of the appointment so that a referral can be sent to the provider and the veteran and so the required medical records can be forwarded to the provider.1
AAC’s Salute to Recovery Programs
Some of the American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) facilities are community care providers covered by the MISSION Act to provide high-quality treatment to veterans. AAC is Recovery First’s parent company.
American Addiction Centers’ Salute to Recovery is a comprehensive program addressing substance use disorders as well as mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. A range of effective, evidence-based techniques are used to help retired military service members overcome addiction and regain a sense of balance in all areas of life.
Desert Hope in Las Vegas, Nevada, and our very own Recovery First in Hollywood, Florida, are treatment centers that offer our Salute to Recovery program. Each location organizes veterans into a battalion—a group of peers who are veterans and first responders that understand each other, making it easier to discuss experiences and move through recovery together.
The battalion is encouraged to bond not only during treatment but as alumni of the program as well. Our program also employs veterans who understand the cost of being a service member and can relate to your unique life and career experiences.
Specialized treatment techniques address substance use, mental health, trauma, stress management, and physical health.
If you’re looking for addiction treatment and are interested in our Salute to Recovery program, call us at 954-526-5776, and one of our compassionate Admissions Navigators will help you get started.
VA Rehab Center Options for Addiction Treatment
Any service member who was not dishonorably discharged from the military can receive healthcare through the VA. Receiving care through the VA isn’t health insurance but rather a benefit earned through military service.
The VA offers private and confidential online screening for substance abuse. Completing this screening can help veterans identify potential issues that can be discussed during an appointment at the VA to determine treatment options.
A veteran who is enrolled in VA healthcare can receive treatment at any VA hospital or clinic.3 This includes receiving treatment for addiction or mental health disorders.3 Treatments that the VA provides for substance use disorders include:3
- Initial assessment to screen for substance use disorders.
- Brief outpatient counseling that focuses on increasing a veteran’s motivation for sobriety.
- Medically managed detoxification to ensure the safety of veterans who are going through withdrawal.
- Intensive outpatient counseling to provide a higher level of care without requiring the veteran to enroll in inpatient treatment.
- Residential treatment to provide increased structure, support, and intensive treatment.
- Relapse prevention and continuing care to ensure veterans can identify and manage triggers and situations that jeopardize their sobriety.
- Marriage/family counseling to help strengthen relationships and help families learn to communicate effectively.
- Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) to provide peer support and healthy coping skills.
- Medication-assisted treatment to manage withdrawal, ease craving, and support sobriety.
- Education on managing issues that may occur in conjunction with substance use disorders, such as mental health disorders, chronic health conditions, and/or chronic pain, which can influence substance use.
VA staff works with each veteran to identify preferences and determine the services (and intensity of those services) that will be most beneficial to the veteran.3 Visit the VA Substance Use Disorder Program Locator for assistance in finding a facility. The VA also provides a listing of addiction treatment programs in Florida.
Local VA programs may not have availability in their substance use disorder programs, or there may not be a VA that is conveniently located or nearby. This is why the MISSION Act and community care providers are essential for providing treatment to veterans. There is no shame in having an addiction, but it doesn’t have to go untreated.