President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday called “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life.” It expands veterans’ access to mental health care during their first year post-service. The order goes into effect March 9.
According to 2017 data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans are 22% more likely than non-veterans to die by suicide. A 2013 VA analysis found that a veteran dies by suicide every 65 minutes.
Suicide is especially common among veterans leaving the military. Veterans transitioning to civilian life face many challenges. They can struggle to find work and may find it challenging to adapt to a life without military routine.
“That 12-month period after you leave service is the highest risk for suicide,” Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin told reporters. He added that only 40% of veterans leaving the military have mental health coverage.
The White House says the order will ensure at least one year of mental health coverage for veterans leaving the military. The executive order also:
- Extends Military OneSource, a Department of Defense program, to offer resources for a full year instead of 180 days.
- Expands the Department of Defense’s Be There Peer Support Call and Outreach Center program.
- Grow the VA Whole Health initiative’s community outreach program. It will expand from 18 facilities to all VA facilities.
- Increases adoption of VAVideo Connect, a mobile application that connects veterans to health care providers.
- Releases a new online scheduling tool at 100 VA sites.
- Requires the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Defense, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint action plan within 60 days.
“The joint action plan will describe concrete actions we must take to ensure every single veteran who needs mental health and suicide prevention services will receive them immediately upon their separation from military service. They get out of the military, and they had nobody to talk to, nobody to speak to. And it’s been a very sad situation, but we’re taking care of them,” President Trump said at the signing.
Arthur C. Evans chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association, called the order “an important commitment from the administration to provide seamless access to mental health care throughout a period when many who have served in our nation’s military are at significant risk for readjustment issues, clinical levels of distress, and even suicide.”
- Lamothe, D. (2018, January 09). Trump seeks to reduce suicide among recent veterans with new executive order. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2018/01/09/trump-to-unveil-new-executive-order-to-reduce-suicide-among-recent-veterans
- President Donald J. Trump takes care of veterans from the battlefront to the home front. (2018, January 9). Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-takes-care-veterans-battlefront-home-front
- Remarks by President Trump at signing of executive order on supporting our veterans during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life. (2018, January 9). https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-signing-executive-order-supporting-veterans-transition-uniformed-service-civilian-life
- Statement in response to executive order on supporting veterans during transition to civilian life. (2018, January 9). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/01/supporting-veterans.aspx
- Trump orders mental health support for military veterans to prevent suicide. (2018, January 10). CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/10/trump-orders-mental-health-aid-for-veterans-to-prevent-suicide.html
- Trump signs order to improve mental health services for transitioning veterans. (2018, January 09). Retrieved from https://www.defense.gov/News/Article/Article/1411817/trump-signs-order-to-improve-mental-health-resources-for-transitioning-veterans
- U.S. military veteran suicides rise, one dies every 65 minutes. (2013, February 01). Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-veterans-suicide/u-s-military-veteran-suicides-rise-one-dies-every-65-minutes-idUSBRE9101E320130202
- VA releases veteran suicide statistics by state. (2017, September 15). Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2951
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