Trump Signs Executive Order to Increase Efforts to Prevent Veteran Suicide

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday amping up efforts to prevent veteran suicide.

Veterans are 1.5 times more likely than non-veterans to take their lives, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and 20 die by suicide on average each day.

The order creates a Cabinet-level task force led by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie that will coordinate and align efforts across the federal government to help stem the crisis among former service members.

The panel will be tasked with creating a national plan to more effectively lower the numbers of veteran suicides after numerous programs and billions of dollars allocated to address the problem in recent years have had minimal impact.

“Veteran suicide is a tragedy of staggering proportions,” Trump said at a signing ceremony. “Today, we can help end this crisis.”

The initiative is dubbed the “President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide” – or the PREVENTS Initiative.

The plan will include prioritizing related research, encouraging collaboration with the private sector and developing a proposal to offer grants to state and local governments to support efforts to prevent veteran suicide.

“We’re going to take care of our veterans – we’re working so hard on this. We’re going to take care of them like never before,” Trump said, calling them “our single greatest national treasure.”

“They kept us safe, and we’re going to keep them safe,” he said.

The order follows a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released in November that found VA suicide-prevention outreach “dropped off” since Trump took office. That included fewer social-media postings, public service announcements and advertisements. The agency spent only $57,000 of more than $6 million that had been budgeted for ads.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Donovan Slack