President Obama Takes Action On Vets’ Mental Health

Lawrence Downes | New York Times | August 31, 2012

Today President Obama signed an executive order to improve mental-health care for service members and veterans, who are killing themselves at alarming and baffling rates. The order affects the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, Health and Human Services, Education and Homeland Security. It calls for things like  more hiring of mental-health professionals, a national suicide-prevention campaign, and a review of existing mental-health and addiction-treatment programs to identify and expand the programs that work well.

Since 9/11, more than 2 million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a rising number of them are taking their own lives. Last month the Defense Department reported that the Army had 26 suspected suicides among active-duty soldiers in July alone, the worst month in at least three years.  It said there were 116 potential active-duty suicides in the Army so far this year, compared with 165 in all of 2011. The other forces were also affected. According to The Army Times, so far this year, there have been 32 suicides in the Marine Corps, 55 in the Air Force and 39 in the Navy.