Following House passage of the bill, Chairman Miller and Reps. Walz and Duckworth released the following statements:
“Once again, the House took an important step to help stop the epidemic of veteran suicides. It’s time for comprehensive, new ideas to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of mental health care available to our veterans, and that’s exactly what the Clay Hunt SAV Act would provide. The bill would ensure VA’s mental health and suicide prevention efforts receive crucial independent, third party oversight while creating a greater accounting of available services and fostering an enhanced community approach to delivering veterans suicide prevention and mental health care treatment, which is why I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in supporting it.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
“The Clay Hunt SAV Act represents a major step forward in the fight to end veteran suicide. I’m pleased the House took swift action in the 114th Congress to move this bill forward. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same. Let’s work together to send this bipartisan bill to the President for his signature,”Rep. Walz, the highest ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress, said. “The fight, however, does not end after this bill becomes law. There is still more that must be done to improve mental health care for our veterans. I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress, veterans, and veterans’ advocates to ensure that improving care for our warriors remains a top priority.”
“Currently, there are over 2 million Post 9/11 Veterans across the country, and this number will only increase as our military force structure continues to draw down. As the nature of war changes, the injuries our warriors sustain also change. Increasingly, theirs are invisible wounds, which do not have simple treatment and do not always manifest immediately,” Representative Duckworth said. “Just as these Veterans remained faithful to our country on the battlefield, it is our turn as their Representatives to remain faithful to them and it is our responsibility as a nation to, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.’ This responsibility includes ensuring that when our service men and women make the brave decision to seek help, they get the quality assistance and treatment they deserve in a timely manner. I am proud that this bipartisan legislation takes a crucial step in reducing Veteran suicide.”
A 2012 report from the Department of Veterans Affairs noted that an average of 18-22 veterans have committed suicide each day for more than a decade.
The Clay Hunt SAV Act seeks to quell this epidemic by:
Increasing Access to Mental Health Care and Capacity at VA to Meet Demand
- Requires VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all department mental health services.
- Addresses the shortage of mental health care professionals by authorizing VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists.
- Requires a yearly evaluation of all VA mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs to find out what’s working and what’s not working and make recommendations to improve care.
o Establishes a pilot program to assist veterans transitioning from active duty to veteran status
o Requires VA to collaborate with nonprofit mental health organizations to improve the efficiency of suicide prevention efforts.
Read the text of the bill here.
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