On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed legislation that supports veterans' mental health as they transition from service to civilian life. This deadline gives the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs 60 days to develop the new health care plans.
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".
Shulkin said suicide among veterans is his top clinical priority, and that he determined that people who have left the military within a year are between 1 1/2 to two times as likely to commit suicide as any other age group.
"We want them to get the highest care and the care that they so richly deserve, and I've been working very hard on that with [VA Secretary David J. Shulkin] and with everybody".
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin told reporters that the new order will take effect March 9.
Shulkin identified veteran suicide as one of the administration's top priorities, stating that veterans who left the military within a year are almost twice as likely to commit suicide as any other age group.
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"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.
- Expand peer community outreach and group sessions in the VA Whole Health initiative from 18 Whole Health flagship facilities to all facilities.
The plan is expected to cost "a couple hundred million dollars a year", paid with existing funds from the VA and Defense Department's budgets, the Washington Post reports. "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 service members had coverage in the VA to get mental health", Shulkin said at a White House signing ceremony. Join us in a conversation about world events, the newsgathering process or whatever aspect of the news universe you find interesting or important.
Federal officials estimate that about 20 veterans commit suicide daily.
The Trump administration is making strides to help veterans transition from military to civilian life, particularly those at greater risk of suicide.