Maloney lauds passage of new bill to prevent veteran suicides
WASHINGTON –Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today applauded the passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (H.R. 203). The bipartisan legislation would establish a peer support and community outreach pilot program to help transitioning servicemembers access mental health services available through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“The twenty-two veterans who commit suicide every day are not just a statistic,” said Maloney. “They are a reminder that our country needs to do so much more to properly care for returning servicemembers who have risked their lives defending our country. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will begin to improve services available to returning veterans and help expand access to those services. It is a shame that this legislation was held up for so long by a one-man filibuster in the U.S. Senate, but I am pleased that it passed unanimously out of the House and may soon become law.”
Named in honor of late Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran and noted suicide prevention advocate who committed suicide on March 31, 2011, The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act is another step toward ensuring our nation’s veterans have the support they need by making needed reforms to mental health care for our veterans.
The bill will require the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all mental health services for veterans. A student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists included in the legislation will help address the shortage of mental health care professionals. To improve care, the legislation will require an annual, third-party evaluation of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not.
More than 8,000 veterans commit suicide every year. Of the more than 2 million Americans who have served in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is estimated that one-third, roughly 600,000 women and men, have traumatic brain injury, PTSD or depression.