GPs urged to check service history as more veterans eligible for mental health cover

Neelima Choahan

25/04/2018 10:00:00 AM

Veterans who have worked full-time even for a day in the defence force are now covered for all mental health illnesses without having to prove it was caused due to their service, under changes brought in by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Extended mental health cover for Australian veterans.
Extended mental health cover for Australian veterans.

Australian military veterans experiencing mental health issues are now able to access healthcare without having to prove it was caused due to their service in the defence force.
But Dr Glenn Pascoe, GP and Chair of the RACGP Military Medicine Specific Interests working group, told newsGP not many GPs are aware of the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) changes to the Non-Liability Health Care cover.
‘Basically for any veterans if they suffer any injuries or illness as a result of their service they can apply to the DVA to have the conditions recognised and covered,’ Dr Pasco said.
‘Non-liability healthcare is where DVA has decided that for certain conditions they don’t have to be directly linked or accepted as caused by defence.’
Dr Pascoe said the three conditions included under the Non-Liability Cover are cancer (malignant neoplasm), pulmonary tuberculosis, and any mental health condition.
While veterans have to meet certain conditions to qualify for the cover for cancer and tuberculosis, the cover for mental health is available to anyone with at least one day of continuous full-time service in the Australian Defence Force.
‘It came into fruition towards the end of last year,’ Dr Pascoe said. ‘It is just that it wasn’t necessarily noted by all ... GPs.’
Dr Pascoe said the move would benefit veterans.
‘It takes away a lot of the stress that they might have to go through to try and prove causation of the mental health condition is from defence service,’ he said.
‘The main thing GPs need to keep in mind is that asking someone if they have had previous defence service, particularly if they are presenting for mental health conditions, because they may be eligible to apply for DVA to cover the cost of their [treatment] for mental health conditions.’
Dr Pascoe said a trial was also underway to determine whether Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) program could be extended to veterans who are experiencing a combination of mental health issues and chronic pain.
CVC is a program for gold-card holders (classified as totally and permanently incapacitated) who have certain eligible chronic conditions, including congestive heart failure, pneumonia, diabetes, where they may be at risk of unplanned hospitalisation.
‘The CVC program is designed to provide additional funding to GP practices and GP practice nurses to have increased contact with the veterans. Basically to try and improve their coordination of care and try and prevent unplanned hospitalisation,’ Dr Pascoe explained.
‘What the DVA Is looking at is for members who have had mental health condition and chronic pain, whether involving them in the CVC program will be beneficial to them. They are looking at non-gold-card holders potentially being eligible.’

ADF Australian-Defence-Force Department-of-Veteran-Affairs DVA mental-health veterans

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anon   27/04/2018 10:50:08 AM

welcome change

Michael James Vallis   26/01/2021 4:09:11 PM

On 29/12/2020 I had my right kidney as it was found to be cancerous. The operation was carried out at Epworth hospital in Richmond Victoria.
I am a Navy Veteran of 21 Years (R64795) and I served in Vietnam (1969) on the HMAS Brisbane {D41). I am currently a DVA Gold Card holder (VSS0121)
I wish to know if any other members of the RAN have suffered Kidney Cancer as a result of Naval Service.