Army secretary on rise in suicides, COVID-19 vaccine timeline

Ryan McCarthy addresses the Army’s mental health issues and has the latest on Operation Warp Speed.
4:11 | 09/29/20

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Transcript for Army secretary on rise in suicides, COVID-19 vaccine timeline
And some troubling new numbers to pass along about our U.S. Service members who are struggling with pressures from not just deployments and defending the country but the pandemic. National disasters and civil unrest. According to the associated press, deaths by suicide in the U.S. Military have increased by 20% this year compared to 2019, with army leaders reporting a 30% rise in active duty suicides. I want to bring in now the secretary of the army, Ryan Mccarthy, to talk about this and other things. Sir, thank you so much for being here. We'll start with these numbers, this is a complex issue, but certainly you're all noticing the spike, it coincided when the pandemic hit, what do you attribute this spike in numbers to? Well, we mentioned that the associated press article that currently the suicide numbers for the army are higher than what we've seen in year over year. When you have 19 years of sustained combat operations, as well as an operational tempo that's still on surge of combat operations in the Middle East, our men and women are pressed to the limit, and so when you see suicide numbers rise, came roughly in the springtime frame when covid-19 really hit hard in the United States, it's clear it's adding additional stress on our men and women. And you said kind of pressed to the limit, extraordinary times for our U.S. Men and women, so how are you helping them, responding now during these unprecedented times? So, the army leadership is really invested itself really since the early summer in looking at our priorities and how we invest our time, and time being the key word there. Every day is a math problem, and how do we look at investments in our people, counseling them, getting feedback, knowing their family members, ensuring that you understand the pressures on them personally, as well as professionally. When people are pushed every day, global demands like 178,000 people deployed overseas, at the height of operations here in the United States with covid and civil unrest. We had over 40,000 deployed just domestically. From that standpoint, when a quarter of a million people are cisively engaged, and that's a quarter million getting ready, a quarter million coming off, a constant thing to churn, so we're very proud of their performance, but it wears on folks over time. Look, they have a tough job. Our men and women. Anyway, so, the pandemic happens. Puts an extra strain. You're at the forefront of trying to find a solution to this global problem with "Operation warp speed." Trying to find a vaccine. I know the initial idea was to have a vaccine ready to go by January 2021, eventually have 300 million doses. Is that time line still reasonable, still likely? So, from end to end on the covid pandemic, whether it's building hospitals, augmenting staff to hospitals, the army is central to the "Operation warp speed" effort, medical research command the U.S. Army helped co-develop the vaccines for ebola and Zika, and now are central to this effort for a pursuit of a covid-19 vaccine there's about five to seven candidates globally that we're working with, with the private sector, utilizing our labs to compress time and testing and distribution sites around the country, there will be vaccine candidates that will become available in the december/january time frame and then those doses will continually be pushed throughout the United States and we'll work with our allies and partners as We appreciate you taking the time. These are very tough topics. I think we can all still applaud the men and the women of our military for the work they're doing under the added pressures now of this pandemic. Thank you for the update. Thanks, T.J. And coming up right here on "Gma3" -- Dr. Jen Ashton

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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