Trump Signs Order to Improve Mental Health Resources for Transitioning Veterans

President signs executive order on mental health care options for vets	 	 	 			Courtesy of CNN Newsource

President signs executive order on mental health care options for vets Courtesy of CNN Newsource

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing government departments to try to prevent suicide among military veterans by treating mental health problems before they become more serious.

VA Secretary David Shulkin pledged that in 60 days, the VA will begin offering a full year of mental health care to all departing service members.

"That is just an unacceptable number and we are focused on doing everything we can to try to prevent these veteran suicides", Shulkin said during a phone conference with reporters January 9.

"Now, when somebody doesn't do the job at the VA, we fire that person", Trump said.

"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".

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.

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In signing this executive order, Shulkin said, the president has provided "clear guidance to further ensure our veterans and their families know that we are focusing on ways to improve their ability to move forward and achieve their goals in life after service".

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

The Defense Department also will expand the services of its Military OneSource program to apply to veterans for a full year after leaving the military, rather than 180 days, said one USA official, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the plan's specifics. "During this critical phase, many transitioning service members may not qualify for enrollment in health care", he said.

"Currently, up until your executive order, only 40 percent of those servicemembers had coverage in the VA to get mental health", Shulkin said.

White House officials said the Department of Defense also plans to start the transition process sooner, so it's less abrupt, although the details and timetables are still being worked out.

The Trump administration is making strides to help veterans transition from military to civilian life, particularly those at greater risk of suicide. His focus is on eliminating the statistic showing 20 veteran suicides every day.

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