Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that the White House has approved an interagency plan to implement President Trump’s executive order supporting Veterans with mental health care and suicide-prevention resources during their transition from uniformed service to civilian life.
Signed by the president in January 2018, the executive order directs VA, the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to collaborate to provide, to the extent consistent with law, seamless access to mental health care and suicide prevention resources for Veterans, with a focus on the first year after separation from military service.
“This collaborative effort represents a critical first step for ensuring that service members transitioning from active duty to Veteran status understand that VA, DOD and DHS are committed to easing the stress of transition by providing the best mental health care possible,” said Acting VA Secretary Peter O’Rourke. “Transitioning to civilian life is difficult and, ultimately, this effort will make it easier for our Veterans.”
Research has shown that service members in transition to Veteran status are at higher risk of mental health challenges and suicide. The president acted to ensure that new Veterans will receive access to VA mental health care and other services to the extent they are eligible.
Implementation of the Joint Action Plan by the three departments includes 16 important services. Below are three examples:
- Expanding 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.
- Extending DOD’s “Be There Peer Support Call and Outreach Center” services to provide peer support for Veterans in the year after separation from the uniformed services
- Expanding DOD’s Military One Source, which offers resources to active-duty members, to include support to separating service members up to one year after separation.
The White House will closely monitor the outcomes of the Joint Action Plan.