President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday designed to assist veterans in gaining access to mental health services.
The order requires the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense and Homeland Security to create a plan to provide “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year following discharge, separation, or retirement.”
These departments must also give updates on how to implement their plan, as well as present any new reforms needed to make mental health services more accessible to veterans.
“We want them to get the highest care and the care they so richly deserve,” Trump stated during the signing, referring to America’s veterans.
Suicide prevention among veterans was a notable concern at the signing, especially for those just returning to civilian life.
The suicide rate among veterans in their first year post-service is twice the average rate among veterans overall, according to The Hill.
Suicide reportedly accounts for 20 veteran deaths a day.
“That is just an unacceptable number,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin.
“We are focused on doing everything we can to prevent these veterans’ suicides.”
“We will be covering all separating military members who are transitioning into civilian life. One hundred percent will have a mental health benefit for 12 months,” he continued.
Shulkin explained that only about 40 percent of veterans have health care in the VA that covers mental health treatment.
The new program will be funded by the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments, and will cost hundreds of millions of dollars every year, The Hill reported.
The order is set to go into effect on March 9, according to The Washington Post.
Trump called the move a “historic step to make sure that our incredible veterans” are “taken care of in a proper manner.”
Trump went on to say that under-performing VA workers would be removed from their posts.
“Now, when somebody doesn’t do the job at the VA, we fire that person” he said.
“When somebody’s bad to our great veterans, even sadistically bad, we fire those people. Get them out.”
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