Obama Increases Suicide Crisis Line for Veterans

     WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama has directed executive agencies to expand strategies for military suicide prevention, which would include increasing the capacity of the Veterans Affairs crisis line by 50 percent.
     The president ordered 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.
     Last month, the Pentagon reported that 38 soldiers took their own lives in July of this year, which was the worst monthly record since the Army began releasing figures, in 2009.
     Obama now has directed Veterans Affairs to “ensure that veterans have timely access, including by telephone, text, or online chat, to qualified caring responders who can help address immediate crises and direct veterans to appropriate care.”
     The president also ordered the government to improve research and analysis of substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
     The Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services are to undertake a study of at least 100,000 service members to better study the effects of PTSD, TBI and other injuries “to develop better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.”
     The president’s order also establishes a task force with members of various government agencies that will identify areas of improvement for veterans at risk of suicide.
     “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,” the president wrote.

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