Jan. 9 (UPI) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday expanding mental health care benefits for returning military service members in hopes of decreasing veteran suicides.
The order directs the secretaries of the Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs departments to submit a plan within 60 days providing “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources” for veterans in the year following military service.
“We want them to get the highest care and the care that they so richly deserve,” Trump said.
Veterans who have left the military within 3 to 12 months earlier are three times more likely to commit suicide than service members in active duty, according to a study from the Naval Postgraduate School.
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said within 60 days all departing service members will receive a full year of mental health care from the VA.
“Currently, up until your executive order, only 40 percent of those servicemembers had coverage in the VA to get mental health,” Shulkin said. “Now 100 percent will have that coverage.”
Shulkin also announced the department will make it easier for veterans to schedule and view appointments by implementing new online scheduling tools.
In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs
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