President Trump and the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced on Wednesday the release of the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). This is a nationwide plan aimed at raising public awareness about mental health, connecting Veterans and others at risk of suicide to federal and local resources, and facilitating focused and coordinated suicide prevention. It also promotes the safe storage of weapons, while not calling for firearm restrictions.
PREVENTS is the result of an Executive Order President Trump signed back in March 2019, calling for the VA, the DOD, Health and Human Services, and others to develop a strategy for ending the national suicide rate.
Recent data shows that 132 Americans, including 20 service members and Veterans, die by suicide each day.
“Veteran suicide is a tragedy this country started measuring in the decades following the Civil War, but one that sadly went unaddressed for generations,” said President Trump.
“Today, my administration is taking steps to ensure the men and women who bravely fought for us when they were called will be given the care and attention they need during some of their darkest hours. Our Veterans will lead the way for all Americans as we end the stigma that for too long has kept us from talking openly about mental health and thwarted our efforts to provide the kind of assistance and support that will save lives.”
Veterans Affairs Secretary, Robert Wilkie, led a task force that penned a report to support veterans’ mental health and find an end to suicide.
“Suicide prevention is VA’s highest clinical priority, and the department is taking significant steps to address the issue,” Wilkie said.
“But just as there is no single cause of suicide, no single organization can end Veteran suicide alone. That’s why PREVENTS aims to bring together stakeholders across all levels of government and in the private sector to work side by side to provide our Veterans with the mental health and suicide prevention services they need,” he added. “By employing a public-health approach to suicide prevention, President Trump’s roadmap will equip communities to help Veterans get the right care, whenever and wherever they need it.”
One of the campaign’s most important goals is to change the culture around veteran suicide and mental health and reduce the stigma of seeking mental health treatment. The plan is to create awareness about risk and protective factors and encourage people to reach out to those who may be struggling.
PREVENTS’s message will be broadcasted and spread, through public service announcements, by government and non-government partners, including national television, radio, and social media. These efforts will include several key high profile leaders including Second Lady Karen Pence and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
“There is no single solution to this issue — every resource must be brought to bear,” President Trump said.
“As a lead ambassador, it’s my goal to help take away the stigma of mental health. We want [veterans] to know — and anyone who’s considering suicide — that there are people out there who want to help. There is a way forward,” Mrs. Pence said.
The President added that the veterans fought the nation’s battles overseas and now we, as a nation, need to help them win this battle at home. He stated that he has already reached out to 30 large corporations to help with the mental health of their veteran employees.
“We’re expanding our partnerships with military and veteran organizations, universities, faith-based leaders, businesses, nonprofits at all levels of government to establish specialized support systems for our veterans. The task force has already partnered with 30 large corporations to help them prioritize the mental health of their employees, and we will continue adding to that number. And the number is growing very rapidly,” President Trump added.
Some PREVENTS’s other approaches also include improving veteran suicide research and data sharing and creating partnerships with faith-based groups, universities, non-profits, corporations, small businesses, and state and local governments to prevent suicide among all citizens.
To view the president’s roadmap and find more information about the PREVENTS Task Force click here: www.va.gov/PREVENTS.
If you are a veteran in distress, contact Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also text for help at 83-82-55 or visit veteranscrisisline.net.