In an effort to stem the high veteran suicide rates, President Trump signed an Executive Order offering additional funding, strategic programs, and services for veterans’ mental health, called the PREVENTS Initiative. Announced at a briefing for press by an unnamed Senior White House Official, the order will create a taskforce who will develop a wide-ranging roadmap for ending the national tragedy of veteran suicide.
Some statistics about veteran suicide in our nation:
- Despite significant efforts and billions of dollars invested, suicide rates among veterans rose 26 percent from 2005 to 2016.
- In 2016, the suicide rate was one and a half times greater for veterans than for non-veteran adults.
- Each day, an average of 20 service members and veterans die by suicide, nearly 70 percent of whom are not engaged with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for their healthcare.
- Veterans often endure traumatic experiences—either emotional or physical—which make them susceptible to mental health issues.
The White House says they seek to strengthen veteran support, and “this Executive Order will amplify the existing efforts of the Trump Administration to improve quality of care for our veterans.”
In recapping the advances in assisting and protecting veterans since the President has taken office, the Senior White House Official outlined the following:
- President Trump previously signed an Executive Order directing his Administration to improve access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for veterans.
- President Trump secured a record $73.1 billion in funding for the VA to provide quality medical care for our veterans.
- This included $8.6 billion for mental health services and $206 million for suicide prevention.
- The President revolutionized the VA healthcare system by signing the VA MISSION Act.
- President has expanded access to telehealth services to help reach more veterans, including through his “Anywhere to Anywhere” VA healthcare initiative.
(Excerpted from the White House Background Press Call on March 5, 2019)