Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

Trump signs order expanding mental health benefits for veterans

Trump signs executive order to reduce suicide among recent veterans Trump signs order expanding mental health benefits for veterans
Melissa Porter | 10 January, 2018, 11:18

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.

"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.

Trump says, "we will not rest until all of America's great veterans receive the care they have earned". "They're the people we should be focusing on".

"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". It calls for automatic enrollment in mental health care for one year after discharge, regardless of combat experience.

The order gives the secretaries of defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs 60 days to develop a joint action plan to provide "seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year" following service.

- Expand the DoD's Military OneSource, which offers resources to active duty members, to include services to separating service members to one year beyond service separation.

Veterans Affairs Commissioner David Shulkin said officials estimate that about 20 veterans a day take their own lives.

VA Secretary David Shulkin says mental health is his top clinical priority.
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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in VA news release that his department looks forward to continuing to work with VA and making sure that veterans receive the care they need.

Keleher, a marine working at Veterans of Foreign Wars says leaving the service and joining civilian life is hard for veterans, making mental health crucial.

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.

According to a VA study released in 2016, the risk of suicide was 19 percent higher among male veterans than male civilians, and 2 1/2 times higher among female veterans than civilian women.