President Trump: Taking Care of our Veterans

President Trump: Taking Care of our Veterans

President Trump: Taking Care of our Veterans

During the 2016 election season, one of the most common themes to then candidate Donald Trump’s campaign was the need to take better care of our military veterans. Those brave men and women had put their lives on the line for the country. Our country owed them not only its thanks but the treatment necessary to help them deal with the traumas, both physical and mental, they came home with. Yesterday, President Trump took yet another step to do just that.

The new executive order, “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life”, is aimed at helping prevent further suicides by transitioning military members and veterans. The order, which the President called a “historic step to make sure that our incredible veterans are taken care of in a proper manner” takes effect March 9th. The Defense Department, Department of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security have 60 days to develop a plan to carry out the order. They are to report back to the President within 180 days on the status of the implementation.

What makes this order so important is that it closes a loophole many of our transitioning veterans faced. 60 per cent of new veterans “do not qualify for care until the government establishes that a medical issue has ties to their military service.” The executive order bypasses that, calling for “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning service members” for the 12 months after discharge.

We want them to get the highest care and the care that they so richly deserve. It’s something that is a top priority. … They get out of the military and they have nobody to talk to. It’s a very sad situation.” It is so very important – and gratifying – that our President, our Commander-in-Chief, recognize the need and take action. As David Shulkin, Secretary for Veterans Affairs, noted during the signing ceremony, those first 12 months after someone leaves the service is when they face the highest risk for suicide. Approximately 20 vets a day take that final step and that, according to Shulkin, is an “unacceptable number.”

One way this order changes things is by changing the way the military looks at transitioning from military service to civilian life. Before, it was seen as an event. Now it will be seen as a process, one in which our military members will receive the help they need to make the mental transition as well as the physical.

Among the provisions of the executive order are the following:

  • Expand peer community outreach and group sessions in the VA Whole Health initiative from 18 Whole Health flagship facilities to all facilities. Whole Health includes wellness and establishing individual health goals.
  • Extend DoD’s “Be There Peer Support Call and Outreach Center” services to provide peer support for veterans in the year following separation from uniformed service.
  • Expand the DoD’s Military OneSource, which offers resources to active duty members, to include services to separating service members to one year beyond service separation.

This executive order comes on top of the bill the President signed last year, providing $2 billion to open new VA medical facilities and “fund care for veterans seeking medical care outside the government system.” That same bill also allowed the VA to lease more than 25 new facilities around the country in an effort to expand access to government care to our vets and their families.

Thank you, President Trump, for taking care of our vets. It is good to once again have a Commander-in-Chief who not only values our military members but who is determined to give “clear guidance to further ensure our veterans and their families know that we are focusing on ways to improve their ability to move forward and achieve their goals in life after service.” It’s about time our country stepped up to help those men and women who have risked so much for it.

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