Each year, Veterans Day provides us with the opportunity to recognize, honor, and thank the men and women who have served in our Nation's armed forces. As President Obama has said: "For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren't nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned." The Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are committed to supporting those who have served by ensuring that all veterans and service members, and their families, get the tools they need to lead fulfilling lives.
HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are working with state governments to ensure veterans get the health care they deserve, inform veterans of their potential eligibility for VA health benefits, and encourage them to apply for those benefits.
And now, veterans and their families who are not eligible for VA care can find health insurance that meets their needs and budget through the Affordable Care Act. An estimated 1.3 million uninsured veterans now can find and sign up for affordable, quality health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. And like other Americans, they cannot be denied coverage or charged more because of a pre-existing condition. They may also be eligible for assistance to reduce their insurance costs. Open enrollment continues through March 2014.
HHS works closely with the Department of Defense and the VA to prevent suicide, enhance partnerships with community agencies, and share critical research to provide the best prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies available for mental health and substance use disorders. Veterans have free access to qualified, caring VA counselors through the 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Since the Crisis Line was launched in 2007, the VA has answered more than 890,000 calls, and has prevented more than 30,000 people from harming themselves.
This Veterans Day, on November 11, I want to send a special thank you to the many veterans who continue to serve our nation as U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps officers and as civilian employees of HHS, whose efforts ensure support for all Americans through the many HHS missions and programs. We stand committed to making a difference in veterans' lives and the lives of their families.
For more information on how HHS supports veterans, service members, and their families, please visit www.samhsa.gov/militaryfamilies and http://www.hrsa.gov/veterans/.