Latest Trump administration executive order targets veteran mental health

Latest Trump administration executive order targets veteran mental health

Latest Trump administration executive order targets veteran mental health

Amid a slew of issues vying for attention at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, President Trump announced an executive order to increase access to mental care for recently discharged service members.

"The Department of Homeland Security is where many veterans find a second opportunity to serve their country - almost 28 percent of our workforce has served in the armed forces, in addition to the 49,000 active-duty members of the United States Coast Guard", said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen.

Shulkin said about 265,000 service members transition out of the military each year, and the cost of providing them with extended mental health coverage "will be in the magnitude of a couple hundred million dollars per year" coming out out of the Defense Department and VA budgets.

"Some veterans have more difficulty with this than others, and we see this expansion of mental health care and suicide prevention programs to be part of an important safety net".

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"We are focused on doing everything that we can to try to prevent these veterans' suicides", he said. He says this administration needs to focus on a more comprehensive approach to fixing issues facing veterans rather than executive orders. "These dedicated men and women have put their lives on the line to protect our nation and our American way of life, and we owe them a debt we can never repay". The federal government estimates that about 20 veterans per day commit suicide.

Veterans who have recently left the military are between two and three times more likely to commit suicide than active duty service members, and almost 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.

VA Secretary David Shulkin says mental health is his top clinical priority.

The order directs the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs to submit a plan within 60 days to provide "seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources".

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Veterans who received an other-than-honorable discharge will continue to be eligible only for emergency services, officials said.

The Pentagon also will look for ways to start the transition process for service members earlier during their time in uniform, the official said. His focus is on eliminating the statistic showing 20 veteran suicides every day.

- Extend DoD's "Be There Peer Support Call and Outreach Center" services to provide peer support for veterans in the year following separation from uniformed service.

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