The Military Health System Advice LineUpdated: March 31, 2020
The article below offers Military Health System Advice Line resources for eligible military members, families, and veterans. These resources are for non-emergency use and if you have an emergency including mental health issues, you should use different, emergency-focused resources (see the section directly below).
Do You Have A Medical Emergency Or A Mental Health Crisis?
If you have a medical emergency, call 9-1-1. If you are having a mental health emergency, call 9-1-1 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.
Who Needs A Health Advice Line?
There are many reasons why a veteran, family member, or currently serving troops might need a centralized nurse advice line; from a crisis like COVID-19 and the coronavirus to simpler issues like allergic reactions, flu, sprains, etc.
When you have a need to get clarification on a medical issue or question, a 1-800 number can be a lifeline for some, and a way to clear up confusion over a medical issue at its most basic.
Unfortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide a centralized “Ask A Nurse” resource hotline, but those authorized to use the VA healthcare system do have such resources provided by the VA on a regional basis.
How To Find A VA-Operated Health Advice Hotline
If you try Googling the phrase “VA Nurse Advice Line” you’ll come up with a large number of 1-800 numbers, all tied to regional VA offices with jurisdiction over a specific regional area. There are too many numbers and offices to sift through using that approach.
The easier way is to use an online VA search tool to find the nearest VA medical facility to you. Once you are at the site linked to here:
- Click on your state or the state where you need care
- Click on the appropriate VA medical center under the listings for your state
- In the toolbar on the right side of the page, you will find listings for Telephone Care
- Some facilities may have after-hour hotlines you must use after normal duty hours
You will find some version of a VA Regional Office in each state or territory including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, and each has an 800 number. If you cannot locate your nearest VA healthcare facility or need further assistance, call the VA Regional Office with jurisdiction over your area.
Health Advice By Telephone For TRICARE Enrollees
In 2014, TRICARE began staffing a 24/7 Nurse Advice line open to all TRICARE beneficiaries in the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii. The line is staffed by professional nurses who can help callers with medical questions and concerns.
Nurses handling such calls often help determine whether in-person treatment is needed or if the caller can stay home to administer self-care.
In some cases, same-day appointments with a primary care manager may be available, but if that is not an option, the Nurse Help Line process can help get the caller to the nearest care center that does not include a “point-of-service” copayment.
Who Can Use The Nurse Advice Line
The Nurse Advice Line is available to TRICARE beneficiaries under the following programs:
- TRICARE Prime
- TRICARE Prime Remote
- TRICARE Prime Remote for active-duty family members
- TRICARE Standard
- TRICARE Extra
- TRICARE Reserve Select
- TRICARE Retired Reserve
- TRICARE Young Adult
- TRICARE For Life
Options For Getting Help From The Nurse Advice Line
To get assistance via the Nurse Advice Line, call 1-800-TRICARE (1-800-874-2273) at any time 24/7 and select Option 1 for help with urgent care questions and needs.
You are not required to use a telephone to connect with a nurse via this TRICARE service; you can use an online telephone service via the official site’s interface (see the link below) to call rather than using a cell phone.
You may also use the online chat portal at the TRICARE Nurse Advice Line official site, and there is also a video chat option.
How To Prepare For Your Call or Chat
All callers must have their DOD Benefit Number (DBN) ready. If you are calling via the internet, or making a video call, you may need to adjust your computer’s microphone settings and camera preferences before you can successfully make a call. Some will have to make adjustments, others may not. If you need assistance with the technical issues surrounding your call, it may be best to contact someone at TRICARE for assistance before trying to place a video call.
The TRICARE Military Health System nurse advice line is staffed 24/7 at 1-800-874-2273. Remember, if you have a health care emergency, a mental health crisis, or are experiencing feelings of self-harm or suicide, call 9-1-1 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (for mental health emergencies and related needs) and Press 1.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News