Improving Service Members’ Transition from DoD to VA and Civilian Health Care Providers
The VA provides five years of cost-free health care to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veterans for any injury or illness associated with service. More information can be found on the VA website.
Guided by Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 6490.10, “Continuity of Behavioral Health Care for Transferring and Transitioning Service Members,” DoD and VA are working together to ensure that service members’ transitions between the two health care systems is seamless. Recently the departments have partnered to expand the scope of transition support services beyond service members who are ill or injured due to combat or training accidents to include other ill or injured active-duty military personnel and veterans who are transitioning to VA health care. This expansion also reflects a memorandum signed between the departments instituting requirements for Interagency Complex Care Coordination. These requirements for transition of care apply to active-duty service members and veterans directly referred from military treatment facilities (MTFs) and outpatient active-duty service members and veterans who present to VHA facilities seeking health care. The MOU establishes a standardized care management process and describes the roles and functions of VA staff working with the care management of OEF and OIF patients across various program areas within VA. It also establishes that VA liaisons for health care be placed at major MTFs to assist with transfers and to provide information to active-duty patients and families about VHA health care services.
Service members who have received mental health treatment within 12 months of separation are automatically enrolled in the InTransition program managed by DCoE. InTransition is a program in which coaches provide psychological health care support to service members, veterans and their health care providers during times of transition. These coaches, who are trained mental health professionals, assist service members telephonically through the transition to their new care provider. Providers can learn more about the program and order program materials from the InTransition website.
DoD and VA are working to ensure that service members who are prescribed mental health medications by a DoD provider can maintain access to the same medication through the VA, even if it is not in the VA formulary. As one of the 19 executive actions announced by the president in August 2014, VA is revising its drug formulary policy to ensure that service members leaving military service and enrolling in the VA health care system maintain access to the same DoD-prescribed mental health medications, regardless of whether the medication is currently on the VA formulary, unless there are specific safety or clinical reasons to make a change.
Maintaining continuity of care for complex cases is critically important. In an effort to increase care coordination between the VA and DoD, providers will develop joint comprehensive plans with the service member or veteran and their family that will address goals for recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
Public service campaigns such as MaketheConnection.net are available to veterans and their families who want to independently explore information about physical and mental health symptoms, mental health conditions and accessing appropriate care through the VA.