On Friday Barack Obama signed an Executive Order that is aimed at reducing the rate of suicide and mental health disorders in veterans and troops. The EO is designed to improve access to behavioral health care. It will also establish a new federal bureaucracy called the Military and Veterans Mental Health Interagency Task Force, which will have representatives from the Department of Education, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Staff, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and such other executive departments, agencies, or offices as the Co-Chairs may designate.

The Air Force Times reports,

Under the order, VA must expand its veterans’ crisis line capability by 50 percent by Dec. 31 and ensure that veterans who identify as being a danger to themselves or others connect with a trained mental health professional within 24 hours.

VA also is required to partner with DoD in developing and implementing a nationwide year-long suicide prevention campaign aimed at veterans.

The order also authorizes VA to expand programs based on veterans helping veterans, directing the department to hire 800 more peer-to-peer counselors, and it also directs VA to work with HHS to establish a pilot program that leverages community mental health resources to reduce the waiting times veterans often face when seeking mental health services.

The Rand Corp. think tank says that nearly nineteen percent of service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan meet diagnostic criteria for either post traumatic stress disorder or depression.

The EO's policy states:

Since September 11, 2001, more than two million service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Long deployments and intense combat conditions require optimal support for the emotional and mental health needs of our service members and their families. The need for mental health services will only increase in the coming years as the Nation deals with the effects of more than a decade of conflict. Reiterating and expanding upon the commitment outlined in my Administration's 2011 report, entitled "Strengthening Our Military Families," we have an obligation to evaluate our progress and continue to build an integrated network of support capable of providing effective mental health services for veterans, service members, and their families. Our public health approach must encompass the practices of disease prevention and the promotion of good health for all military populations throughout their lifespans, both within the health care systems of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and in local communities. Our efforts also must focus on both outreach to veterans and their families and the provision of high quality mental health treatment to those in need. Coordination between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense during service members' transition to civilian life is essential to achieving these goals.

Ensuring that all veterans, service members (Active, Guard, and Reserve alike), and their families receive the support they deserve is a top priority for my Administration. As part of our ongoing efforts to improve all facets of military mental health, this order directs the Secretaries of Defense, Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security to expand suicide prevention strategies and take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.

The order claims it will:

  • Strengthens suicide prevention efforts across the Force and in the veteran community
  • Enhances access to mental health care by building partnerships between VA and community providers
  • Increases the number of VA mental health providers serving our veterans
  • Promotes mental health research and development of more effective treatment methodologies

Just as with the previous order regarding industrial energy regulations, all this will do is create a bigger bureaucracy for veterans to go through. While I applaud our veterans and believe since we made a promise to them, that we should keep it, this needs to be moving more to the private sector than it does expanding the role of government.

Our troops need to be brought home and we need to stop engaging in endless wars and unconstitutional ones. If we would just stop that, much of this problem would stop along with it. These brave men and women cannot be put in the situations of war and their minds not be affected by what they see and engage in. It's just common sense.

However, these issues are not to be done by executive order. They are to be done by Congress, for they are the ones who have Constitutional authority in these matters. These measures are not only unconstitutional in how they are being directed, but they will end up costing taxpayers more money and will not greatly improve the services that veterans need.

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