Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Help for vets: Trump deploys more firepower against suicides”
Help for vets: Trump deploys more firepower against suicides
January 11, 2018
Members of the armed forces put their lives on the line for the nation, so it’s only appropriate that the federal government does all it can to protect them from post-service psychiatric problems. President Donald Trump sent that message Tuesday with an executive order enhancing mental health services for recently discharged veterans. Suicide rates among former service members remain high, especially among those fresh out of uniform, and all reasonable efforts to stanch the epidemic are worth making.
Mr. Trump’s order makes a wide range of mental health services available to all veterans as they transition back to civilian society. Until now, a full complement of services was available only to about 40 percent of those recently discharged, most of them from the combat ranks.
Importantly, the President’s order not only authorizes services for all veterans during their transition periods but directs Cabinet-level agencies to ensure those services are plentiful and available. For example, Mr. Trump directed the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand its use of telemedicine, which has the potential to connect veterans with care no matter where they live, and its use of technology that allows former service members to schedule appointments online.
Veterans also may schedule appointments in the private sector if the VA system cannot serve them quickly enough — an important allowance given the VA’s past failures to provide prompt treatment.