WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Donald Trump took action Tuesday on a problem that has plagued the nation and Montana hard, directing his administration to develop a solution to end veteran suicide.
Billings Mayor Bill Cole was among those in attendance at the White House when the president signed the executive order aimed at coordinating federal and local governments to attack the problem.
Cole says he was surprised and honored when he got the invitation to come to the White House.
“Sadly, the reason that I was invited is because Montana has the highest rate of veteran suicide in the nation. It’s almost twice the general population, which is also the highest in the country, so it’s a huge problem,” said Cole.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that 20 veterans die by suicide on average each day.
Cole called the presidential order a good opportunity to give the problem the attention it deserves.
“There’s no doubt that calling attention to the problem that normally lives in the darkness is really important. People have to know that they can get help both the families and the veterans who are suffering,” he says.
But Cole hopes that initiative will also help bring much-needed funding to the effort in preventing suicide in Montana.
“Right now we don’t have any funds to attack this problem, and this task force that was created as a result of the executive order will be looking for alternatives including additional funding sources,” said Cole.
Reporting by Russ Riesinger for MTN News