WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order directing government departments to try to prevent suicide among military veterans by treating mental health problems before they become more serious.
Trump’s order directs the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs to ensure all uniformed service members have access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources in the first year following military service.
“They get out of the military and they have nobody to talk to,” Trump said as he signed the order. “It’s a very sad situation.”
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said the White House wants to address an alarming trend, that of 20 veterans a day taking their own life.
“That 12-month period after you leave service is the highest risk for suicide,” Shulkin told reporters. Currently, only 40 percent of military members have mental health coverage, he said.
The new order will cost about $200 million year to implement, money that will be diverted from the agencies’ current budgets, a senior administration official said.
Reporting By Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton; Editing by David Gregorio