Confronting Veteran suicide, President signs PREVENTS Executive Order
WASHINGTON: Twenty veterans a day kill themselves. In his remarks today President Trump tells us:
“Veteran suicide is a tragedy of staggering proportions. Hard to believe an average of 20 veterans and service members take their lives every single day. Who would believe that’s possible? There are more than 6,000 veteran suicides per year. The suicide rate among veterans is 1.5 times greater than that for non-veteran adults, and the suicide rate for post-9/11 soldiers has increased significantly over the last ten-year period.”
They come back to the U.S. from places like Kandahar where they lived in a state of heightened battle alert. Then they come home, as one veteran says, and they worry about paying the mortgage. Knowing that their friends, battle buddies, died and they lived.
And it is a heavy burden to carry. Not only the horrific things seen and done in battle, but living while others in your platoon die.
In his remarks today, President Trump reminds us of how important veterans are to him and his administration:
“The White House VA hotline has fielded more than 200,000 calls and successfully resolved 93 percent of the concerns our veterans brought to them. And they work very hard. It’s been very, very effective.
We secured $206 million for VA suicide prevention programming. Every VA medical center now offers same-day emergency mental health care.
These are crucial steps, but, unfortunately, most veterans who die by suicide have not been in the care of the VA. Many of them don’t know about the programs that we have or the programs that we’ve instituted. In fact, nearly 70 percent of those lost to suicide have not received care from the VA in the previous two years. They’re just not aware of those great strides. They’re just not aware. It’s just not something that’s on their mind.”
Ryan Larkin, a U.S. Navy Seal
Among those in attendance was former Navy Seal Frank Larkin whose son, U.S. Navy Seal Ryan Larkin ended his life.
According to his day
“Ryan was a decorated high-performing Navy SEAL who suddenly went over the edge. In the two years that we tried to rescue him, he was prescribed over 40 different drugs. His treatment was all psychiatric- and behavioral-health focused. All along, Ryan kept saying that something was wrong with his head, but nobody was listening.”
Unselfish even in his death, Ryan wished to donate his body for TBI research. Ryan’s concern being for others who found themselves struggling from what he calls “Invisible Wounds.”
Mr. Larkin says that it is only in his son’s death that they were able to identify what was wrong with Ryan – an undiagnosed microscopic brain injury that is directly related to blast exposure. This is a result of firing weapons, rockets, mortars, charges and IEDs.
Like football players who suffer from CTE impact wounds, this damage is hidden until after the sufferer dies and the brain can be autopsied.
Mr. Larkin remarked:
This executive order is defining a national strategy that needs to resemble a Manhattan-like Project. We need the science to illuminate our path forward. I am convinced that we can solve this. It is not because we lack the intellectual capability or capacity; in many cases, it’s because of culture. We need all the relevant players to step onto the same field of play at the same time, completely focused on solving this problem. We need collaboration, integration of data, and unity of effort across DOD, the VA, HHS, DHS, academia, and the private sector.
All of which will take an unprecedented amount of cooperation between Congress and the White House.
PREVENTS: National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide
Today, the President has taken another step in providing Veterans with the services they need. Speaking to veterans the President recommitted America’s gratitude and service to them saying:
To every veteran: I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you. You will never, ever be forgotten. We are with you all the way. I think you know that.
Continuing the quest to get our veterans the help they need, President Trump has signed an Executive Order Initiative — “The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide”
With this executive order, a cabinet-level task force, co-chaired by Robert Wilkie United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs is created. The task force will be challenged to create a roadmap to weave federal
The task force’s goal will be to find new ways to identify, intervene and help veterans who need help, or at risk of committing suicide. The president saying:
“By investing in research and scientific advances, we can better understand the trauma our brave soldiers face and how to restore their faith and their health.”
Work before Congress
A very partisan Congress is being called on to pass legislation to provide resources to communities who are doing veteran outreach. Resources being made available will include community grants to create support and information networks for the Veterans.
“Veterans are America’s greatest national treasure and a lot of people understand that; some people don’t. I will tell you, our single-greatest national treasure. They kept us safe and we’re going to keep them safe. They courageously fulfill their duties to our nation. Now we must fulfill our duties to them.”
A 2018 study by Michigan State University and published in the Journal of Social Networks has study author Zach Neal saying
“Today, we’ve hit the ceiling on polarization. At these levels, it will be difficult to make any progress on social or economic policies.”
The study shows that the partisan divide between legislators has steadily grown over time. And no one can argue that it is reaching unprecedented levels. What is very interesting, the study shows is that congressional polarization has nothing to do with which party holds the majority. Hopefully, Congress will end its assault on the Trump Administration and put its efforts into our brave men and women who have given so much, for so little.