AMVETS Fears Lackluster Follow Through in past Mental Health Executive Orders may be Mirrored in Latest Suicide Prevention Efforts

Senate allegations of meager efforts and unfulfilled promises in 2018 Executive Order draw concerns as implementation of larger-scale mental health plans with national implications begins.


AMVETS National Headquarters, Oct. 27, 2020 – AMVETS is expressing deep concerns regarding the implementation and focus given toward the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Executive Order signed March 5, 2019 after a recent Stars & Stripes article reports that members of The Senate allege the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to implement promises made through a similar Executive Order signed in 2018.

“This is extremely troubling and would make anyone with a vested interest in our military, veterans, and their healthcare rightfully question the substance behind any Executive Order signed in the future, “ said AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly. “We are in the crosshairs of a veteran suicide epidemic with no solution in sight and a worldwide pandemic forcing many veterans out of jobs, socializing, and many of their routines and habits. The one factor our servicemembers and veterans should be able to fall back on are programs signed by our Commander in Chief, staffed by nationally touted Task Forces, and reinforced by our government’s resources and funding. Simply put, that factor is not there because the effort is not there. If these allegations brought forth by the Senate regarding the “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life” are true, there is going to be exponential worry about how implementation of the PREVENTS Executive Order will go.”

“This is really important. Veterans have the highest rate of suicide in the first year after discharge from service,” tweeted former VA Secretary David Shulkin, who oversaw the Department in 2018, in regards to the article. “That’s why we wanted every service member to have mental health coverage upon leaving the military.”


“This problem speaks to the yawning chasm that has long existed between VA central office and VA medical centers, where policy seems to be a matter of choice rather than direction from the top,” said Gillums. “Too many veterans were still being turned away from crucial mental health care based on bad paper discharges in spite of this Executive Order. To make matters worse, the actual impact of the PREVENTS Executive Order hasn’t lived up to expectation, in terms of policy impact. A PREVENTS veteran survey link that was sent out a couple months ago didn’t work for many who were invited to complete it, and the roadmap for preventing suicide at all levels remains in the abstract, with no real practical application. At some point, words have to translate into action and results, especially at a time when rates of anxiety and depression across society, which includes veterans, service members, and military families, are going in the wrong direction.”


AMVETS, which is also known as American Veterans, is the most inclusive Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization open to representing the interests of 20 million veterans and their families. We are veterans serving veterans since 1944. amvets.org
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Contact: Miles Migliara, National Communications Manager
 (573) 528-4219 | media@amvets.org

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October 27th, 2020
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