President Donald Trump announced a $53 million, two-year roadmap to prevent veteran suicides during a White House address on June 17.
“Veteran suicide is a tragedy this country started measuring in the decades following the Civil War, but one that sadly went unaddressed for generations,” said Trump.
Trump signed an executive order in March 2019 mandating the Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicides (PREVENTS). A cabinet-level task force was then created to design the roadmap finally launched on Wednesday.
“Today, my administration is taking steps to ensure the men and women who bravely fought for us when they were called will be given the care and attention they need during some of their darkest hours,” said Trump.
Earlier in a background press call, a senior administration official said veterans are 1.5 times more vulnerable to suicides than the non-Veterans and about 6,000 veterans commit suicide every year.
Female veterans are 2.2 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
The officials also expressed concerns that most of the veterans don’t go to Veteran Affairs and get healthcare there.
“Approximately 20 veterans and Guardsmen commit suicide a day. And, unfortunately, very—only about 30 percent, 6 of those 20, have any connection to VA,” said the official.
According to the last year’s National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the number of veteran suicides increased from 15.9 per day in 2005 to 16.8 in 2017. Firearms were used in 70.7 percent of male veterans’ suicides and 43.2 percent female veterans suicides in 2017.
PREVENTS is based on three key deliverables—the roadmap, a 60-page document is one key deliverable of the program and it is based on 10 recommendations and 9 priorities.
The recommendations include suicide surveillance and a public health campaign.
Another deliverable is the National Research Strategy that aims at understanding the context, improving how to access data about suicide, and to understand how to effectively intervene.
The third deliverable, according to the White House officials, will be a legislative proposal. The federal administration over the next year will study what’s already happening and will look into the funding available across the various government agencies.
“But we’ve also been tracking and looking and meeting and talking with legislators and those advocates who are working so that we can see: What are the gaps, and what needs to be added to what already is there?” said the senior administration official.
To ensure the third deliverable, the federal government will also study what’s available at the community level and how to coordinate and support what is already being delivered.
“PREVENTS aims to bring together stakeholders across all levels of government and in the private sector to work side by side to provide our Veterans with the mental health and suicide prevention services they need,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie.
The Trump administration will also launch a National Suicide Prevention Activation Campaign in the next few weeks—that aims to bring awareness about suicide and mental health.
The campaign that will involve coordinated messaging from various government and non-government partners and messaging on national digital, radio, and television will focus on the states with a higher concentration of veterans.
The campaign will involve high profile ambassadors like Second Lady Karen Pence and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
From The Epoch Times