AP NEWS

Donald Trump’s executive order to create high-level task force on vets’ suicide prevention

March 5, 2019

President Trump is signing an executive order Tuesday to create a Cabinet-level task force aimed at preventing the more than 20 veterans’ suicides per day.

The task force, under the direction of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, will have one year to develop a “comprehensive, national public-health road map” to coordinate suicide prevention efforts, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

Mr. Trump will sign the order on the initiative called the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide, or PREVENTS. It’s another step in a plan that he ordered in January to ensure more mental-health support for transitioning troops.

A Government Accountability Office report late last year found that the VA left $6.2 million unspent that was available for suicide prevention efforts in fiscal 2018, spending only $57,000 on paid media.

Part of the new effort will be to coordinate grants for support networks to provide better services at the state and local levels “where and when they are needed,” the official said.

It’s not clear whether the effort will include any new federal spending. The aide said despite billions of tax dollars spent on the problem in recent years, “the impact has been minimal.”

“It will be up to the task force to figure out what level of effort is needed,” the official said.