Serving in the military is more than just a job — it’s a calling. But what many people don’t realize is that military service can increase the risk for substance abuse and other mental health disorders. Serving in a combat zone exposes service members to physical and emotional trauma and makes it difficult to maintain relationships with loved ones at home. Even if you’ve never been in active combat, military service can contribute to high levels of stress associated with moving frequently and being separated from family members during training.

Veterans and their loved ones often wonder if VA benefits can be used to pay for addiction treatment and other behavioral health services. The good news is that VA insurance may pay for addiction treatment services and treatment for PTSD and other mental health issues.


Before you can use VA benefits to pay for mental health treatment, you must sign up for a health care plan if you’re not already enrolled in one. Enrolling in an insurance plan will give you access to a wide range of medical services, ensuring you receive the care you need to stay in good health. Once you have VA insurance in place, talk with your VA primary care provider about your substance abuse and other mental health concerns. Based on the information you provide, your doctor can refer you to addiction treatment programs that are equipped to meet your needs.

For best results, substance abuse treatment should be tailored to your individual needs. Many veterans with substance use disorder also have depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety, all of which need to be treated. To ensure you receive addiction treatment designed to address your specific issues, it’s important to be honest with your doctor about your symptoms.

If you’re not already seeing someone at the VA, you can use the interactive map published by the Department of Veterans Affairs to search for VA facilities in your area. The Department of Veterans Affairs also has a search tool available to help you find a local VA hospital.

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Substance Abuse Treatment and Dual Insurance Plans

Some people have VA insurance benefits and another type of health insurance coverage as well, such as Medicare or a private health insurance plan. If you have dual insurance coverage, it’s important to understand which of your insurance plans will cover addiction treatment or treatment for mental health conditions. Fortunately, you can use private medical insurance without losing your VA insurance if your private plan has better addiction-related benefits.

If you want to use both VA benefits and private insurance, you’ll need to let the VA know what other type of insurance you have. That way, you can get coverage for both service-related and non-service-related care. Even if you have VA benefits, you should still consider enrolling in Medicare when you become eligible, as having Medicare coverage can help you get the care you need if your VA benefits are ever reduced.

Mental Health Services for Veterans

Once you have insurance coverage in place, it’s time to start looking for an addiction treatment program. It’s important to choose a recovery program that’s designed to meet the unique needs of veterans, as military service comes with some unique stressors that can affect your treatment. VA treatment programs are especially helpful for veterans struggling with substance abuse and service-related mental health conditions, but these programs tend to fill up quickly.

If you’re put on a waiting list for treatment at the VA, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to speak to someone who can help you find a community-based program that meets your needs. You may also be able to find a private treatment facility with programs designed specifically for veterans. Virtue at the Pointe offers comprehensive addiction treatment that honors your military service and ensures you have the support you need to start your recovery.

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VA Coverage for Co-Occurring Disorders

Many veterans have co-occurring disorders, or addictions paired with some other type of behavioral health concern. For example, some veterans struggle with alcohol addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder. Your VA benefits may cover the following:

  • Treatment for anxiety or depression
  • PTSD treatment
  • Grief counseling
  • Service-related trauma therapy
  • Other services depending on your physical and psychological needs

If you’re relying on a private insurance program to cover some or all of your treatment costs, you’ll be happy to know the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act considers behavioral health treatment an essential benefit. Therefore, all traditional health insurance plans must offer at least some coverage for the treatment of depression, anxiety and other co-occurring disorders.

Treatment Options

Depending on which insurance provider you use, you may be able to get outpatient or residential substance abuse treatment. Residential treatment centers offer counseling, medication-assisted treatment and other services to help veterans overcome drug and alcohol addiction. Residential treatment may also be available for veterans struggling with PTSD, major depressive disorder, service-related trauma or generalized anxiety disorder. Some treatment centers even offer aftercare to help veterans make a successful transition from residential treatment back to their communities.

If you can’t take time away from your job or your responsibilities at home, outpatient treatment can help you learn how to cope with service-related trauma without turning to drugs or alcohol. When you enroll in an outpatient program, you may participate in individual therapy, group therapy or family therapy.

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Long-term drug and alcohol use can cause serious physical and emotional consequences. If you’ve been drinking or using drugs to cope with trauma you experienced while serving in the military, Virtue at the Pointe can help. Our compassionate staff members have extensive experience helping veterans and active-duty service members overcome addiction and address underlying behavioral health issues. Call (866) 377-4409 to speak with an admissions coordinator and request a free and confidential assessment.

CALL 866-377-4409