Livingston County Veterans Services has a new policy in place to help vets with secondary mental health care needs.

The Veterans Services Committee approved their official Mental Health Relief Policy during Wednesday night’s meeting. The policy offers assistance for vets seeking ancillary mental health care that the VA might not offer or cover. It is meant to be in addition to therapy being taken, and not to replace it. Veterans Services Director Mary Durst explains that relief is available to honorably discharged veterans with 90 days of service, and extends to their immediate families. She said in her mind, while helping draft the policy, she saw veterans suffering from PTSD that are going to the VA for help, but aren’t doing as well as they think they could. They can then come to Veterans Services for some outside the box thinking on programs that can supplement their primary therapy. One “out of the box” theory that Durst suggested was equine therapy.

The committee discussed a financial threshold for eligibility, but quickly landed on not having one. Chairman Joe Riker said that the intent is to try and help all veterans with mental health troubles. He added that this is another opportunity to help veterans, as they promised in their passed millage proposal. The relief will be available for up to 4 months, and any claim must come before the Veterans Committee for approval. The Veterans Committee could already offer this relief, but Wednesday’s approval gave them something in writing they can show to the public.

Any veteran seeking assistance can visit the Veterans Services office, located in the Livingston County East Complex, at 2300 East Grand River, in Howell. (MK)