The COMPACT Act of 2020, which went into effect in January 2003, allows more veterans to gain additional mental health treatment.

The law also allows veterans to access some health care services directly, along with going through the VA.

This includes Montare Behavioral Health, a cutting-edge facility in the Catalina Foothills that treats mental illness.

Montare’s facility isn’t limited to veteran care, but they specialize in this area due to a combination of keeping residency numbers limited to ten and providing a palette of treatment modalities in addition to the standard medication and therapy.

This includes meditative sound baths, canine and equine therapy, along with neuroimaging and brain mapping.

It’s not usual to see the group practicing yoga during a weekday session before training emotional support dogs.

But most importantly, Executive Director Joddi Jacobsen mentions the level of individualistic care that the facility is able to provide.

“I think in behavioral health, we can talk a lot about having person-centered care,” says Jacobsen. “But I’ve never really seen it in motion like I have at Montare, where it’s very intimate and small, with 24-hour care, nutritionists and the kind of care to help people who are feeling underwater.”

The singular focus on mental health care also sets Montare’s facility apart, as typical treatment centers typically involve substance abuse issues.

“Most programs are what you call dual-diagnosis,” says Amber Brown, a case manager at Montare. “but there are very few primary mental health programs, even nationwide.”

Kyle’s Story

After serving two tours in Iraq, Kyle Learned found it difficult to adjust to life outside a war zone. It wasnt the combat that affected him, but rather the lack of purpose in civilian life.

Its trying to find something to do with your time,” Learned says. “Especially after you spent ten years doing something that you really felt proud of, that people thanked you on the street. Then going from that to feeling basically useless.

Thats when the war on his personal life began. 

I went through a pretty nasty divorce, he says.  And I ended up alone.

Kyles life spiraled further until he was forced to make a choice.

I was basically down to living in my van, Learned says. And I just got really depressed one night and decided that I was either going to kill myself or check myself into the hospital, to the VA.

Fortunately, he chose the latter.

This led him to Montare Behavioral Healths treatment center and onto the road to recovery. 

Kyle found a kindred spirit in Francis Hegel, a program director at Montare and a veteran who had similar experiences with war.

We deployed to the Helmand Province in 2009 and saw combat there, Hegel says. My unit lost more people to suicide than we did to the Taliban. 

Hegel has since dedicated his life to preventing veteran suicides, which are twice the rate as the general population. He says that with the COMPACT Act in effect, facilities like Montare are more readily available to veterans like Kyle. 

After his 90-day stay, Kyle experienced something he hadnt felt in years. Hope.

I feel a lot better, he says. Im sad to leave after my 90 days were up but dont get me wrong, I’m ready

Those interested in receiving care from Montare Behavioral Health can reach out directly or register for care through the VA.

Veterans suffering from a mental health crisis can also call the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988.