President Trump signs executive order aimed at improving mental health of U.S. veterans
MACON, Ga. -- President Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at improving the mental health of U.S. military veterans.
That executive order is meant to ensure that all veterans have the proper resources they need during the transition back into civilian life, which can be a difficult time for many.
Mathew Geyer, the Director of Mental Health at the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, said that about 20 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.
Geyer said that the Carl Vinson VA and their satellite offices serve about 11,200 mental health patients per year. He said that the new executive order is expected to help veterans with the transition back into civilian life because they would be able to immediately get services when they're discharged.
Right now, there's a huge lag between the time that a member of the military is discharged and the time that they can start receiving VA services, with the process taking about 12 months or even longer.
Geyer said that the ability to get veterans mental health help sooner will help them overcome difficulties before they turn into major mental health conditions. The first year after being discharged is crucial for a veteran's mental health, and Geyer said that when veterans are discharged they're 1.5-2 more likely to commit suicide than someone who has never been in the military.
Marine Corps veteran David Ballengee served for four years, from 2005-2009. Ballegnee said that while the Marine Corps teaches life skills that are useful for the military, those skills aren't necessarily transferable to civilian life.
He said that he had a difficult time transitioning out and felt unequipped to handle life outside of the military. Ballengee added that he is happy that the new executive order is in place.
Geyer said, "I had a very double-edged sword. I had some issues and some things that I desperately needed to have taken care of. My first three years out of the Marine Corps, I was lucky to have gotten two mental health appointments, cutting through the red tape, waiting on everything that needed to happen. And that just wasn't enough."