WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The Trump administration is turning its focus to mental health for veterans this week. Amid a slew of issues vying for attention at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, President Trump announced an executive order to increase access to mental care for recently discharged service members.
VA Secretary David Shulkin says mental health is his top clinical priority.
“There’s no questions asked, they get the mental health care they need. That’s crucial,” said Kayda Keleher.
Keleher, a marine working at Veterans of Foreign Wars says leaving the service and joining civilian life is difficult for veterans, making mental health crucial. The administration hopes Tuesday’s executive order makes life easier for new veterans. It calls for automatic enrollment in mental health care for one year after discharge, regardless of combat experience.
“I honestly use mental health services at VA and I would rather use them there than in the private sector,” said Keleher.
Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin says veterans will be able to use VA or the private sector. He says no cost should be spared when it comes to mental health. His focus is on eliminating the statistic showing 20 veteran suicides every day.
“ Our job is to save lives and that’s why we’re taking action to support both those that are other than honorably discharged as well as all transitioning service members,” said Shulkin.
Some say one year of automatic mental health care is not enough. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) wants more of a commitment.
“ Every veteran one size doesn’t fit all. A one-year commitment may work for many veterans, but may not for others,” said Brown.
Brown sits on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. He says this administration needs to focus on a more comprehensive approach to fixing issues facing veterans rather than executive orders.
“The VA and the president simply aren’t looking at this in a big enough picture,” said Brown.
The administration expects this executive order to take effect on March 9 of this year.