Trump Launches Task Force to Address Veteran Suicide


by Sharon Rondeau

President Donald Trump speaks about veterans’ needs and his new PREVENTS initiative, June 17, 2020 (White House Facebook page)

(Jun. 17, 2020) — On Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump took to the podium at the White House to introduce a new initiative put in place by an executive order last year with the purpose of preventing post-service suicide.

The effort, whose acronym is “PREVENTS” (“President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide”), will dedicate $53 million to a new campaign intended to raise the public’s awareness of the issue over the next two years.

“They fought overseas and now we must join them in this new battle at home,” Trump said.  Thirty “large corporations” have joined the new effort, he said, with more expected to lend their support in the near future.

Trump began by stating that his administration “from Day One has been on a mission of historic scope and scale to deliver results for our great veterans.”  “After years of shameful scandal and neglect under the Obama/Biden administration — and scandal and neglect it was — we have fundamentally reorganized the VA from top to bottom,” he said, “and we’ve reestablished a crucial principle:  American veterans deserve the highest standard of care anywhere in the world, and that’s what they’re getting.”

That is enabled, Trump said, through “Veterans’ Choice,” which allows veterans to seek medical care outside of VA facilities to avoid lengthy waiting periods.  “We got it; we got it done,” Trump said, decrying the weeks-long wait times previously endemic in the VA medical system.

“The days of endless and deadly wait lists are over,” he said, ” and they are never going to come back.”  He recounted his signature on the “VA Accountability Act” which he said has “removed more than 9,000 VA workers who were not giving our veterans the care, respect, attention that they’ve earned.”

Now, poorly-performing VA employees can be more easily “fired” by the VA Secretary, Trump said, invoking the term by which Trump was known when he starred in the popular NBC show, “The Apprentice” for 15 years.

Marine veteran and attempted-suicide survivor Chad Hiser speaks at the unveiling of the PREVENTS initiative, June 17, 2020 (White House photo)

Following Trump’s remarks, U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran Chad Hiser spoke about his service, his feelings of guilt following the 2003 deaths of 18 fellow service members in Iraq, a 2005 suicide attempt and his recovery in 2009.

The task force will be joined by Second Lady Karen Pence, Trump said, with the involvement of Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie.  The group will include HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar; and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, among others.

Pence is designated the initiative’s “lead ambassador” and during her remarks, identified her purpose as to “take away the stigma of mental health,” referring to Hiser’s sharing of his experiences.  “Right now is such an opportune time because we’re all dealing with anxiety; we’re all dealing with stress right now,” she said.  She said that help is available to “anyone who is considering suicide.”

During Wilkie’s remarks, he emphasized that Trump pledged support for veterans during his 2016 campaign, followed through on that pledge, and thanked him for launching PREVENTS.

A 60-page “road map” for the initiative is expected to be released on the task force’s website, Stars & Stripes reported Wednesday morning, as well as ten recommendations and approximately 300 pages of research utilized to formulate the strategic plan.

“The President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) will focus on a holistic public health approach to suicide prevention,” the website states. “PREVENTS seeks to change the culture surrounding mental health and suicide prevention through enhanced community integration, prioritized research activities, and implementation strategies that emphasize improved overall health and well-being.”

Updated, 6:49 p.m.


One Response to "Trump Launches Task Force to Address Veteran Suicide"

  1. OPOVV   Friday, June 19, 2020 at 3:06 AM

    The truth? Trump won’t hear the truth, especially if he asks the VA or the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Trump means well, but in the end, it sounds good and makes for a good photo op, but it’ll just be more of the same.

    And the chances of anyone even being asked — who has spent hours with the barrel of a gun in his mouth — just won’t happen, because the truth is just what they don’t want to hear, and that’s the truth.

    You send young people off to fight for the Constitution and they come back home and all they see is the Constitution being trashed, every night, right before their eyes on TV, and there’s no better example than to see a burka or a statue toppled. I put my life on the line defending my country and to watch cops being killed or else railroaded — like those cops in Atlanta – is a little too much.

    Meanwhile, Hillary isn’t in jail. If I did what she did I be in jail, so why isn’t she?

    You have the likes of Omar and Tlaib in congress, for God’s sake: these are people who want to kill us, but nobody is home. There’s nobody in the United States government who gives a hoot about our country, for if they did we’d already have rounded-up each and every DACA freeloader, illegal immigrant and Muslim from our land and kick them out, and if any of them comes back we would make sure they never get another chance.

    We signed a new trade treaty with Mexico that says we cannot execute Mexican murders, rapists and child molesters.

    We have become a weak people who are aghast at the riots, looting and burning but we don’t do a darn thing to stop it. We cry and wring our hands and say “isn’t it just too bad that so many Veterans kill themselves everyday” but, you know what? Talk is cheap.

    You want to solve the Veteran suicide problem? Go after the source by upholding the law, starting with deporting each and every Muslim, now, today and none of this “Committee this and that”: complete waste of time.

    And speaking of wasting time, I just wasted mine for writing this and you just wasted yours for reading this. Face it: nothing will be done about it, except maybe the VA will prescribe more pills. We don’t need more pills: we need our Constitution back; our country back. A “new country” in Seattle, and people are going to “Look into the reasons why so many Veterans are committing suicide every day.”

    Give me a break or give me my gun. My God, is everyone so out to lunch you can’t see the solution right before your eyes? Nobody cares, that’s the truth. America has become a joke: you talk the talk but you can’t walk the walk. You welcome millions of people who will NEVER accept the Constitution as the law of the land and you wonder why so many of us give up the ghost.

    Give me a break. I never want to hear another weak excuse about “rights”: what about my rights? But I’m never asked that. And nobody will be asked for the answer why so many Veterans kill themselves because they just don’t want to hear the truth, and if they ever do hear it, they’ll dismiss the answer with a wave of the hand, as in “you’re crazy and it can’t be done. We can’t deport each and every Muslim from our country, why, they are American citizens.”

    See what I mean? If I were in charge they wouldn’t be citizens of our country in the first place, and in the second place don’t even think about using my own argument against me, about the Constitution being for everyone: it’s not, not for a people who follow a belief system that wants to kill us.

    And there’s your answer; I just gave you the answer and the solution to why so many Veterans kill themselves but what I just said WILL NOT BE ACTED ON.

    Give me my gun.


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