Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) February 14, 2018 - A new executive order seeks to reduce veteran suicides by expanding mental health care for service members transitioning out of the military.
President Trump signed the order focusing on a group that is considered to be particularly at high risk of suicide. It comprises 60 percent of recent veterans who do not quality for care until the government ascertains they are suffering from a medical issue that is related to their military service.
The order will provide them with mental health care for at least a year upon leaving the military. It is scheduled to take effect March 9.
“The order is a key step in ensuring vulnerable groups of veterans have the support and care necessary for a smooth transition to civilian life after their service,” commented Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “However, it is important to remember that while veterans may face the most mental health challenges in their first year, quality care should also be available beyond that initial period.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will have 60 days to formulate a joint plan that provides transitioning veterans with “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources” during the year after their service. The plan must then be implemented within 120 days.
The extended mental health coverage is expected to cost around $200 million per year. Officials say that the funds will come from the government agencies’ existing budgets.
The VA estimates that 20 veterans commit suicide each day. The rate is significantly higher than that of the civilian population.
VA Secretary David Shulkin said around 265,000 service members transition out of the military each year. However, just 40 percent of service members currently have mental health coverage. According to the Naval Postgraduate School, veterans are more likely to take their own lives in their first three to 12 months of returning home from the military in comparison to active troops.
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