Rounds Supports Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act
WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) supported the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which passed out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The bill will now move to the full Senate floor for consideration.
“Our men and women in uniform make incredible sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has a responsibility to provide proper care for them when their service is complete,” said Rounds. “This includes offering quality, accessible mental health care to returning veterans, many of whom struggle with the invisible wounds of war long after they leave the battlefield. Our bill is a positive step toward offering them necessary assistance while streamlining programs to make sure our resources are being used effectively. I was pleased to vote it out of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee today.”
Statistics show that an average of 22 veterans take their own lives every day in the United States. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act calls for outside evaluations of all the current suicide prevention programs at the VA and the Department of Defense to make sure they are functioning as intended. Those found ineffective will come under review for improvement, consolidation or elimination.
It also would require a new website to be built that offers veterans information on how to access mental health services. Additionally, it creates a medical school loan repayment program to recruit more VA psychiatrists.
The bill was named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28. An identical bill passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support yesterday.