Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics

Healio Special Report: Health Care and Politics

March 06, 2019
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President Trump issues national call to action to end veteran suicide

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Donald Trump 2018
Donald J. Trump

On March 5, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to establish a Cabinet-level task force focused on empowering veterans and preventing veteran suicide.

Co-chaired by Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the task force will develop a “public health roadmap” — the PREVENTS Initiative (the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide) — to help veterans improve their quality of life and address “one of our nation’s most heartbreaking tragedies: veteran suicide,” Trump said at the signing ceremony.

Among veterans, suicide rates have increased by 26% from 2005 to 2016, according to a fact sheet issued by the White House. On average, 20 service members and veterans complete suicide every day, the majority of whom do not receive health care from the VA.

This “roadmap” will include a national research strategy for engaging with public- and private-sector stakeholders and effectively identify and intervene suicide risk factors earlier. It will also include a proposal for providing governments on the state and local level with resources and tools to help veteran communities and offer services, according to the fact sheet.

Image of veteran at clinic 
Source: Adobe Stock

“By investing in research and scientific advances, we can better understand the trauma our brave soldiers face and how to restore their faith and their health,” Trump said. “Under this order, my administration will also work with Congress to pass legislation providing resources and assistance in the form of grants to communities so that they can empower veterans with critical information, services, and networks of total, total support.”

In signing this executive order, the Trump Administration strengthens its existing efforts to support veterans. For 2019, Trump secured $73.1 billion in funding for the VA to provide quality medical care for veterans, which included $8.6 billion for mental health services and $206 million for suicide prevention, according to the fact sheet. In 2018, he also expanded access to telehealth services through the “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative and signed the VA MISSION Act to improve veteran access to health care.

“Veterans are America’s greatest national treasure and a lot of people understand that; some people don’t. I will tell you, our single-greatest national treasure,” Trump said at the signing ceremony. “They kept us safe and we’re going to keep them safe. They courageously fulfill their duties to our nation. Now we must fulfill our duties to them.” – by Savannah Demko

References:

President Donald J. Trump Issues a National Call to Action to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Veteran Suicide: Fact Sheet. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-issues-national-call-action-empower-veterans-end-national-tragedy-veteran-suicide. Accessed on Mar. 6, 2019.

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Executive Order, “National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide.” https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-signing-executive-order-national-roadmap-empower-veterans-end-veteran-suicide. Accessed on Mar. 6, 2019.