Six months after President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at improving mental health care for troops leaving the military, the VA, Defense Department and Homeland Security have begun their work.
“This collaborative effort represents a critical first step for ensuring that service members transitioning from active duty to veteran status understand that VA, DoD, and DHS are committed to easing the stress of transition by providing the best mental health care possible,” Acting VA Secretary Peter O'Rourke said in a Friday statement. “Transitioning to civilian life is difficult and, ultimately, this effort will make it easier for our veterans.”
When servicemembers leave the military, they're at higher risk of suffering mental health problems or considering suicide, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The joint plan includes 16 services that will be offered to veterans, including expanding peer-community outreach and group sessions to all VA facilities. That includes services from the VA's Whole Health Initiative, which creates personalized health plans for veterans that focus not only on physical and mental needs, but emotional and spiritual as well.
It also expands DoD's Be There Peer-Support Call and Outreach Center to veterans for one year post-separation. That program assists troops facing issues in any area of their lives, including relationship issues, family counseling, or substance abuse.
Veterans will also have access to the Defense Department's Military One Source to servicemembers up to a year after separation. That program connects servicemembers to counselors who serve as “warrior guardians” to help them and their families deal with challenging aspects of military life.
While MOAA has not yet seen the entire joint action plan, the three expansion points detailed so far recognize the need for continuing access and support throughout servicemembers' transitions, which is a great initiative. We look forward to seeing the remainder of the action plan and working with the administration on ensuring its success.
One key component of a successful program will be the dedication of the funding and resources needed to sustain them well into the future.
The White House will closely monitor the outcomes of the joint action plan, according to the VA release.