CARING FOR VETERANS IN TRANSITION: President Donald J. Trump has signed a new Executive Order to ensure veterans have the resources they need as they transition back to civilian life.
- President Trump has signed an Executive Order on “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life.”
- The Executive Order directs the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to:
- Within 60 days, develop and submit a Joint Action Plan to provide “seamless access to mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning uniformed service members in the year” following military service; and
- Within 180 days, update the President on the implementation of the Joint Action Plan and outline further reforms to increase veterans’ access to mental health services.
- The status report will include the progress of reforms implemented through the Joint Action Plan and any additional reforms that could help further address problems that obstruct veterans’ access to mental health treatment resources.
RETURNING VETERANS ARE AT RISK: Veterans in their first year after service are particularly vulnerable to mental health risks but often do not receive adequate care.
- Most veterans’ experience in uniform increases their resilience and broadens the skills they bring to the civilian workforce.
- Unfortunately, in some cases within the first year following transition, some veterans can have difficulties reintegrating into normal life after their military experiences and some tragically take their own lives.
- Only 50 percent of returning service members who need mental health treatment seek it, and only about half of those who receive treatment receive adequate care, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- The suicide rate among veterans in the first year after their service is twice the average among veterans.
- Veterans 3 to 12 months out of military service are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than their active duty compatriots, while those up to 3 months out of service were 2.5 times as likely, according to a study from the Naval Postgraduate School.
- Approximately 18.5 percent of veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression.
MODERNIZING AND EXPANDING CHOICE: President Trump believes that our veterans deserve the best healthcare in the world, and is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand and modernize their care.
- President Trump and Secretary Shulkin have announced four important initiatives to expand healthcare access for our veterans through technological innovation.
- An expansion of the VA’s “Anywhere to Anywhere” healthcare, which allows VA providers to use tele-health technology to remotely treat veterans regardless of geographic location.
- A greater adoption of VA Video Connect, an application for mobile phones and computers, which directly connects veterans and healthcare providers from anywhere in the country.
- At over 100 VA sites across the nation, a rollout of the new Online Scheduling Tool, which enables veterans to schedule appointments from their mobile devices or computers.
- A launch of the VA’s “Access and Quality Tool,” which allows veterans to view online both wait times at VA locations and important quality-of-care data.
- President Trump has ensured continued access to care in the Veterans Choice Program by signing the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act, authorizing $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program (VCP).
- The VCP gives eligible veterans their choice of private care if they live more than 40 miles from the closest eligible VA facility, experience wait times over 30 days from the clinically indicated date, or face an excessive burden in accessing VA care.
- President Trump announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs will adopt the same Electronic Health Record (EHR) as the Department of Defense (DOD).
- VA’s adoption of the same EHR as DOD will ultimately result in all patient data residing in one common system, enabling the immediate availability of service member’s medical records and seamless care between the departments.
- Secretary Shulkin has expanded access to urgent mental healthcare to former service members with other-than-honorable (OTH) discharges.