RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Millions more veterans will have access to what the Department of Veterans Affairs says is lifesaving care.

Beginning January 17th, veterans,–including those not enrolled in the VA system–facing a suicidal crisis can get free care at VA and non-VA facilities. 

Retired Gunnery Sergeant Marine Corps Jeff Sherman served 23 years in the Marine Corps. He’s now at home as the Commander of Cary’s VFW Post.

“We’ve seen things that most people will never see,” Sherman said.

After leaving war, he continued to see them.

“My mindset still is almost in a combat zone and coming home without treatment it’s very difficult to separate, you know, being in New Jersey and seeing trash and thinking that I’m back in Iraq or Afghanistan and that’s gonna blow up,” Sherman said.

Sherman credits the Durham VA with saving his life, going to therapy there for four years.

“I saw friends of mine, 23 of them, commit suicide because they didn’t talk to anybody and that was the most difficult part for me knowing that they were suffering,” Sherman said. “I don’t want to talk about difficult stuff, but sometimes you have to.”

He’s open about those difficult topics because he wants other veterans to seek help when they need it.

Retired Marine Sergeant Major Rod Fuller said it took him about a decade after retiring to seek the help he needed.

“I think the biggest issue they’re gonna have is convincing the veteran to go,” Fuller said in regards to the program.

After facing anger issues, lack of sleep, and depression when he retired, it was someone who knew what he was going through that convinced him to get help from the VA.

“That’s what got me in there was another veteran convincing me, ’cause otherwise, you know, who knows what would’ve happened to me by now,” Fuller said.

The VA said it will cover inpatient care for up to 30 days and outpatient care for up to 90 days.

“It’s incredible and I am hoping that that allows veterans that may not be financially solvent to be able to go in and get help,” Sherman said. “I pray to god that they do.”

The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by calling 988 and pressing 1.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal crisis, some resources are:

Texting or calling 988

— The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

— The Veterans Crisis Line: online here or text 838255

— Hopeline—Online here or call 919-231-4525

— Other crisis prevention and support resources can be found HERE.