Veteran mental health in spotlight as Trump administration works on 'roadmap'

Published: Mar. 21, 2019 at 1:18 PM MDT
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20 veterans take their own lives every day, according to the Trump administration. The White House is trying to put an end to this national tragedy after President Donald Trump signed another executive order earlier this month.

The new administration initiative is a so-called public health roadmap addressing the overall health of our veterans.

“So many friends suffer with depression and unfortunately make a decision to end their own life,” said Sergeant First Class Robert Musil.

The Northern Illinois native says for years veteran suicide has simply been an issue on paper. He thinks this new plan for furthered research and public-private coordination will produce real results.

“There’s so much value in human life so I truly believe that helps drive this,” said Musil.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie is one of the men charged with making this new roadmap a reality. Wilkie says local communities play a big role in this action plan.

“The traditional remedies that we’ve used to address not only suicide but homelessness don’t work anymore when we’re dealing with numbers like we’re dealing which is 20,” said Wilkie.

Mental health groups also want to eliminate that 20-a-day figure. They want to see innovation in the help we provide veterans.

“We’re hoping that medical research and growth can spur better treatments,” said Emily Blair from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

She says the veteran community has come a long way in addressing mental health, both in seeking treatment and providing it. She thinks communities should continue to welcome veterans home from combat with open arms.

“Reach out to them and say that, you know, ‘we’re here as neighbors to support you in this,’” said Blair.

The president wants the suicide prevention roadmap submitted next March. If you are a veteran or know one who is struggling, please call 1-800-273-8255.