Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Executive Order on Supporting our Veterans During their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life
1:52 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, thank you very much. And I want to thank Secretary Shulkin, Secretary Nielsen, and Deputy Secretary Shanahan for joining us as we take yet another historic step to make sure our incredible veterans — and that they’re taking care of — that they’re being taken care of in a proper manner. So important.
We want them to get the highest care and the care that they so richly deserve, and I’ve been working very hard on that with David and with everybody. It’s something that is a top priority.
We’re also honored to be joined by Acting National Director of Suicide Prevention, Dr. Franklin, and three veterans who now work supporting their fellow veterans at the VA — all experts and tremendous people.
We’ve already made tremendous strides in delivering for our veterans, including passage of long-awaited veterans accountability legislation — one of the things I’m most proud of.
For many years, they tried to pass veterans accountability and they couldn’t do it; they failed. And after almost 40 years, we got it passed. And now when somebody doesn’t do the job over at the VA, we fire that person. When somebody is bad to our great veterans, even statistically bad, we fire those people — get them out and go after them.
And we have a creation of a 24-hour veterans hotline. And these were two of my campaign promises. But getting to me — getting the veterans accountability legislation passed, done through the House, through the Senate, and I signed it was a big moment for the veterans.
In a few moments, we’ll sign a new executive order that directs the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to develop, in the next 60 days, a joint action plan for improving the availability of lifesaving mental health services for our veterans. A lot of focus on our veterans, and they’re the people we should be focusing on, along with everybody else. But we really put a very great deal of focus on our veterans. Great, great people.
The joint action plan will describe concrete actions we must take to ensure every single veteran who needs mental health and suicide prevention services will receive them immediately upon their separation from military service. They get out of the military, and they had nobody to talk to, nobody to speak to. And it’s been a very sad situation, but we’re taking care of them.
We will not rest until all of America’s great veterans receive the care they’ve earned through their incredible service and sacrifice to our country. And, again, I want to thank David Shulkin. I want to thank everybody behind me and everybody on that side of the room for having done such an incredible job.
I’m honored to be at the forefront of the greatest strides ever made at the VA for our veterans, and it’s not even close. And it has been so adjudged.
So thank you all very much, I appreciate it. Thank you.
We just had a very good meeting, I might add, on DACA, and I think the results are going to be terrific. But we had a very good meeting.
I will sign this. And, David, who am I giving this pen to? How about David? We give it to David, right? Is that all right?
SECRETARY SHULKIN: That would be great.
THE PRESIDENT: So this is supporting our veterans during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life, taking some of their difficulty away.
(The executive order is signed.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: This to me is a very important bill. Thank you. (Applause.) I think this should go to David.
SECRETARY SHULKIN: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re doing a great job. We appreciate you.
SECRETARY SHULKIN: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Go ahead, please.
SECRETARY SHULKIN: Mr. President, as you know, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, preventing veteran suicide is our top priority, and something you talked about in the campaign and you and I have talked about many times since. Twenty veterans a day are taking their life through a suicide — something that’s just totally unacceptable.
So under your leadership, with this executive order, we’re taking an unprecedented action today in that we will be covering all separating military members who are transitioning into civilian life — 100 percent of them — with the mental health benefit for 12 months.
And here are the important reasons. What you may not know is, is that that 12-month period after you leave service is the highest risk for suicide. Almost one and a half to two times highest risk in that first twelve months when you leave the service.
And currently, up until your executive order, only 40 percent of those servicemembers had coverage in the VA to get mental health. Now 100 percent will have that coverage, and it’s the full array of services that the Department of Defense and the Department of Veteran Affairs will be able to provide in terms of mental health coverage.
I just want to thank Secretary Nielsen, Deputy Secretary Shanahan, Secretary Mattis, of course. Under your leadership, we’ve all come together. And with the Office of American Innovation and the Domestic Policy Office, you’ve brought together everything that will allow us to do this in the next 60 days.
So starting March 9th, this is a reality for our country’s veterans that they will have this mental health coverage. So thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I’m very happy to have helped, and I think our veterans, above all else, are happy. They are — the strides that we’ve made at the VA have been — I don’t know if they’ve been reported very much. You could tell me better than me. I haven’t seen as much as we should see, but I will tell you every time I talk to somebody, they’re thanking us — all of us as a group — for what we’ve done for the Veterans Administration.
Thank you all very much for being here. Thank you. Thank you.
1:58 P.M. EST
President Donald J. Trump Takes Care of Veterans from the Battlefront to the Home Front
CARING FOR VETERANS IN TRANSITION: President Donald J. Trump has signed a new Executive Order to ensure veterans have the resources they need as they transition back to civilian life.
- President Trump has signed an Executive Order on “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life.”
- The Executive Order directs the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to:
- Within 60 days, develop and submit a Joint Action Plan to provide “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year” following military service; and
- Within 180 days, update the President on the implementation of the Joint Action Plan and outline further reforms to increase veterans’ access to mental health services.
- The status report will include the progress of reforms implemented through the Joint Action Plan and any additional reforms that could help further address problems that obstruct veterans’ access to mental health treatment resources.
RETURNING VETERANS ARE AT RISK: Veterans in their first year after service are particularly vulnerable to mental health risks but often do not receive adequate care.
- Most veterans’ experience in uniform increases their resilience and broadens the skills they bring to the civilian workforce.
- Unfortunately, in some cases within the first year following transition, some veterans can have difficulties reintegrating into normal life after their military experiences and some tragically take their own lives.
- Only 50 percent of returning service members who need mental health treatment seek it, and only about half of those who receive treatment receive adequate care, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- The suicide rate among veterans in the first year after their service is twice the average among veterans.
- Veterans 3 to 12 months out of military service are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than their active duty compatriots, while those up to 3 months out of service were 2.5 times as likely, according to a study from the Naval Postgraduate School.
- Approximately 18.5 percent of veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
MODERNIZING AND EXPANDING CHOICE: President Trump believes that our veterans deserve the best healthcare in the world, and is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand and modernize their care.
- President Trump and Secretary Shulkin have announced four important initiatives to expand healthcare access for our veterans through technological innovation.
- An expansion of the VA’s “Anywhere to Anywhere” healthcare, which allows VA providers to use tele-health technology to remotely treat veterans regardless of geographic location.
- A greater adoption of VA Video Connect, an application for mobile phones and computers, which directly connects veterans and healthcare providers from anywhere in the country.
- At over 100 VA sites across the nation, a rollout of the new Online Scheduling Tool, which enables veterans to schedule appointments from their mobile devices or computers.
- A launch of the VA’s “Access and Quality Tool,” which allows veterans to view online both wait times at VA locations and important quality-of-care data.
- President Trump has ensured continued access to care in the Veterans Choice Program by signing the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act, authorizing $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program (VCP).
- The VCP gives eligible veterans their choice of private care if they live more than 40 miles from the closest eligible VA facility, experience wait times over 30 days from the clinically indicated date, or face an excessive burden in accessing VA care.
- President Trump announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs will adopt the same Electronic Health Record (EHR) as the Department of Defense (DOD).
- VA’s adoption of the same EHR as DOD will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system, enabling the immediate availability of service member’s medical records and seamless care between the departments.
- Secretary Shulkin has expanded access to urgent mental healthcare to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) discharges.
Presidential Executive Order on Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to support the health and well-being of uniformed service members and veterans. After serving our Nation, veterans deserve long, fulfilling civilian lives. Accordingly, our Government must improve mental healthcare and access to suicide prevention resources available to veterans, particularly during the critical 1-year period following the transition from uniformed service to civilian life. Most veterans’ experience in uniform increases their resilience and broadens the skills they bring to the civilian workforce. Unfortunately, in some cases within the first year following transition, some veterans can have difficulties reintegrating into civilian life after their military experiences and some tragically take their own lives. Veterans, in their first year of separation from uniformed service, experience suicide rates approximately two times higher than the overall veteran suicide rate. To help prevent these tragedies, all veterans should have seamless access to high-quality mental healthcare and suicide prevention resources as they transition, with an emphasis on the 1-year period following separation.
Sec. 2. Implementation. (a) In furtherance of the policy described in section 1 of this order, I hereby direct the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to collaborate to address the complex challenges faced by our transitioning uniformed service members and veterans.
(b) Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a Joint Action Plan that describes concrete actions to provide, to the extent consistent with law, seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year following discharge, separation, or retirement.
(c) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a status report on the implementation of the Joint Action Plan and how the proposed reforms have been effective in improving mental health treatment for all transitioning uniformed service members and veterans. The report shall include:
(i) preliminary progress of reforms implemented by the Joint Action Plan;
(ii) any additional reforms that could help further address the problems that obstruct veterans’ access to resources and continuous mental healthcare treatment, including any suggestions for legislative and regulatory reforms; and
(iii) a timeline describing next steps and the results anticipated from continued and additional reforms.
Sec. 3. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE
January 9, 2018.
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.