If you experience a sore throat, ear infection, or a bad head cold and your home treatments aren’t cutting it, consider visiting an urgent care center.

Urgent care is the right option if you need medical attention immediately but don’t require the level of treatment offered at the emergency room.

Urgent care for veterans

On June 6, 2019, Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented benefits of the MISSION Act, providing new urgent care options to veterans. Rather than finding a VA emergency room or another alternative, veterans can now seek treatment for minor injuries and illnesses at civilian urgent care clinics.1

This service is in addition to a veteran’s ability to get care from a VA provider.

How to get urgent care as a veteran

VA offers urgent care services to those eligible veterans at in-network urgent care centers. To access an in-network urgent care center, you must:

  • Meet eligibility requirements
  • Go to an in-network urgent care center
  • If applicable, pay a VA copayment after our visit

To find an in-network urgent care center in your area, you can go to the Veteran Affairs website and use the VA Facility Finder. You risk paying the full cost if you get care at an out-of-network urgent care center.

Urgent care benefits cover the treatment of symptoms, including:

  • Bumps and bruises
  • Ear ache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Pink eye
  • Rash and skin irritations
  • Sore throat
  • Sprains
  • Urinary tract infections

Some urgent care centers can also provide X-rays, vaccines, medications, lab, STD, and pregnancy tests.

Services and treatments the VA does not cover include preventive care and dental services.

Urgent care should not replace primary care

The VA cautions that veterans should not replace their primary care provider with urgent care. Instead, veterans can take advantage of both resources. While an urgent care provider is helpful if you need short-term care and can’t get in to see your primary physician promptly, it’s still important to see your family physician.

A primary care doctor better understands your overall health history and can provide preventive health care.

Urgent care for veterans

Thanks to the MISSION Act, veterans now have more flexibility in accessing healthcare. Going to an in-network civilian urgent care center gives veterans more choices in how they can get care within their community.

Common services provided by urgent care centers include in-person & virtual care for ear infections, cold and flu symptoms, physical examinations, and more.


  1. Veterans Affairs. VA MISSION ACT: VA’s new urgent care benefit for Veterans. Accessed February 26, 2023.

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