Photographer: Alex Flynn/Bloomberg

Trump to Order Better Access to Mental Health Care for Veterans

President Donald Trump will instruct federal agencies Tuesday to improve access to mental health care for veterans during the first year after they leave the armed forces, administration officials said.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said about 20 veterans a day commit suicide, calling it an “unacceptable number.”

“I’ve identified the issue of preventing veteran suicides as one of our top priorities,” Shulkin said.

Veterans 3 to 12 months out of military service are three times more likely to commit suicide than active duty members of the military, according to a Naval Postgraduate School study cited in a White House fact sheet.

Roughly 260,000 service members transition out of the military each year and the administration estimates that the expansion of mental health benefits will cost a few hundred million dollars annually, an administration official said. The funding will come from existing resources at the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments.

About 18.5 percent of veterans returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, the fact sheet added.

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