Trump gives nod to new task force to prevent veteran suicides

Washington: President Donald Trump on Tuesday officially nodded for creating a new Cabinet-level task force, aimed at creating a road map strategy across all the provincial governments to prevent veterans’ suicide.

CNN quoted the White House describing the order signed by the US President as a “national call to action”. The task force, led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, has been provided a time of a year to submit its strategy on curbing veterans’ suicide.

The US President took to twitter saying, “Just a few moments ago, I signed an EO addressing one of our nation’s most heartbreaking tragedies: VETERANS SUICIDE. To every Veteran—I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you. You will NEVER be forgotten.”

During a signing event alongside administration officials and representatives from various veterans’ groups, Trump referred to the veteran suicides as “a tragedy of staggering proportions”.

“Hard to believe an average of 20 veterans and service members take their lives every single day. Who would believe that’s possible?” he said.

“Supporting veterans is a very, very important thing to me. And it’s been a very important thing for my campaign from Day 1 — and from before my campaign. But from Day 1,” Trump added.

According to the latest report by the VA National Suicide Data, the veteran suicide rates in the US increased nearly 26 per cent between 2005 to 2016, with a slight decrease from 30.5 per 100,000 population to 30.1 per 100,000 population between 2015 and 2016.

Quoting sources, CNN further reported that the task force will also process in coordination with the Congress “to work side-by-side with state and local governments to provide resources, technical assistance, and coordination in the form of grants.”

The task force will issue grants at the state level or potentially lower, however, it is unclear whether this will come from reallocated funds or additional funds within the federal government.

In addition, the amount of funding in these grants is yet to be decided, the source said.