Our nation's veterans deserve access to the care they need, within or outside Veterans Administration (VA) facilities. It is imperative, therefore, that they have timely access to comprehensive, high-quality community health care services, including physical therapy.
The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act was enacted in 2018 to improve veterans' access to health care services. It is important that physical therapists (PTs) in private practice and other outpatient settings who treat veterans in the community—or are interested in becoming a community provider—understand how, where, and when care can be delivered.
First, though, it's important to note the difference between VA health care and TRICARE. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) under VA covers veterans—those who once served in the military but have retired or are now separated from service due to a service-connected illness or injury. TRICARE is a civilian network, administered by the US Department of Defense, that provides health care benefits to active-duty service members, National Guard/reserve members, and their families when services cannot be provided at a military treatment facility.