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Executive Order Expands Mental Health Benefits to Combat Veteran Suicide

mental healthy

By Debbie Gregory.

“Supporting our Veterans during their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life” is an executive order that aims to reduce veteran suicides.

Focusing on soon-to-be former service members, all recently separated veterans (except those with a bad paper, less than honorable discharges) will be entitled to one year of mental health screening. The VA launched a separate program offering emergency mental health services for veterans with bad paper discharges.

Beginning March 9th, transitioning veterans will receive one year of mental health care through the Veterans Health Administration, either at a VA facility or at a private facility, based on wait times where you live.

“As service members transition to Veteran status, they face higher risk of suicide and mental health difficulties,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. “During this critical phase, many transitioning service members may not qualify for enrollment in health care.”

This means that VA mental health care will now be available to the 60% of transitioning veterans who are currently ineligible for long-term VA medical benefits, usually because they didn’t serve in a combat zone or don’t have a verified service-connected disability.

Signed by President Trump, the order requires that within 60 days of the January 9th signing, “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…” that will address access and resources to address the suicide issue.

Within 180 days, a status update on the Joint Action Plan must be submitted to the president.

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