WASHINGTON, March 5 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order aimed at reducing veteran suicides in the country.
Trump called veteran suicide a "solemn crisis" that needs "urgent national action" during a signing ceremony at the White House.
"To every veteran -- I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you. You will NEVER be forgotten," Trump tweeted moments after signing the document titled "National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Suicide."
According to the executive order, a cabinet-level task force led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will create a comprehensive national public health roadmap within 365 days to empower veterans to pursue an improved quality of life, coordinate suicide prevention efforts, prioritize related research activities, and engender collaboration across public and private sectors to end the national tragedy of suicide.
The administration will also partner with Congress to work with state and local governments to provide resources, technical assistance, and coordination in the form of grants that empower veteran communities to provide critical information, networks of support, and services when and where they are needed, an administration official told the press.
A 2018 report by the Department of Veteran Affairs named veteran suicide "a national concern." From 2008 to 2016, more than 6,000 veterans committed suicide each year. From 2005 to 2016, veteran suicide rates increased 25.9 percent, outpacing the growth rate for non-veterans which was at 20.6 percent.
Veterans are 1.5 times more likely than non-veteran adults to commit suicide, the report found.
Mental issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and traumatic brain injury contribute to higher suicide rates among veterans. U.S. government data showed that 15.7 percent of the veterans who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 tested positive for PTSD.