Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Trump Signs Veterans' Mental Health Legislation

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin before giving remarks and signing an Executive Order on Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs Trump signs executive order to reduce suicide among recent veterans
Marlene Weaver | 10 January, 2018, 11:22

Transitioning service members and veterans can now receive up to a year of mental health care from the Veterans Affairs Department after discharge from the service, according to an executive order President Donald J. Trump signed today.

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.

"There's no questions asked, they get the mental health care they need". "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".

Trump signed laws previous year aimed at expediting the appeals process for veterans' benefits and extending the so-called choice program, which allows veterans more choices about where they get health care when the VA can't provide it. An estimated 20 US veterans die by suicide each day, and President Trump a year ago tasked incoming VA Secretary David Shulkin with getting that number to zero.

Shulkin called the number "unacceptable" and said preventing suicides was his agency's "single top priority".

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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".

Veterans who have left the military within 3 to 12 months earlier are three times more likely to commit suicide than service members in active duty, according to a study from the Naval Postgraduate School.

"Our job is to save lives and that's why we're taking action to support both those that are other than honorably discharged as well as all transitioning service members", said Shulkin. But it is expected to include the expansion of peer group sessions from 18 of VA's largest "Whole Health" facilities to the rest of them, according to VA.

A senior administration official also said the costs total a "couple million" dollars and will come from resources already available to the VA and the DOD. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important. His focus is on eliminating the statistic showing 20 veteran suicides every day.

The government has long grappled with how to reduce the suicide rate among veterans.

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