Donald Trump Asks Karen Pence to Lead Effort to Prevent Veterans’ Suicide

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence, second from left, serve turkey to troops at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. The visit is Pence’s first to Iraq and comes nearly one year since President Donald Trump’s surprise visit to the country. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced Second Lady Karen Pence would continue as the lead ambassador for a White House task force to prevent veterans’ suicides.

“She’s going to be leading us into the Promised Land on this very tough subject,” Trump said at the White House.

The president unveiled the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End the National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) task force recommendations to help veterans struggling with mental health.

On average, 20 veterans commit suicide a day.

“My administration is marshaling every resource to stop the crisis of veteran suicide and protect our nation’s most treasured heroes,” Trump said. “They’ve been through so much, and it’s such a deep-seated problem.”

Pence said she was honored to help lead on the issue, pointing to the coronavirus pandemic for making Americans more aware of the struggles of mental health. She continued:

I feel like right now is such an opportune time because we’re all dealing with anxiety. We’re all dealing with stress right now. So if I can do anything as lead ambassador, it’s my goal to help take away the stigma of mental health, take away the stigma for people to be able to come forward.

Pence’s son Michael Pence Jr. is a pilot in the Marine Corps.

The White House said the task force had identified 10 recommendations and nine priorities to help raise awareness and coordinate government efforts to stop veterans’ suicides.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said suicide had become an enormous problem throughout the United States.

“This day is the beginning of one of the most important national discussions America has seen,” Wilkie said. “It is an effort to find a solution to a problem that does not discriminate amongst its victims: the poor, the rich, people of all races and creeds.”

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