WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs – announced the Senate passage of legislation he cosponsored, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (Clay Hunt SAV) Act. This provision would improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for American veterans. According to an August 2014 dispatch by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more than 8,000 veterans each year take their own lives – that averages to 667 per month, 154 per week, and 22 per day. More than half of those veterans are under the age of 50.
“Our commitment to veterans must match their commitment to our nation,” Brown said. “Congress must take an active role in increasing veterans’ access to quality mental health care and professionals. Those who put their lives on the line in service to our country should not face barriers or receive insufficient care when seeking treatment.”
The Clay Hunt SAV Act would require an independent system-wide assessment of existing VA mental health programs to better determine areas for improvement and consolidation. The legislation would create a pilot loan repayment program to help recruit additional VA psychiatrists while strengthening relationships between the VA and non-profit mental health organizations as a way to better serve veterans.
The legislation is named in honor of Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who committed suicide in May 2011 at the age of 28. Hunt completed two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning the Purple Heart for injuries incurred in 2007. Hunt was honorably discharged from the Marines in 2009 and suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) for several years before taking his own life.
Brown encourages any veterans, servicemembers, or their families who are in crisis to seek help and assistance by contacting the Veterans Crisis Line – a confidential resource that connects veterans, their family, or friends, with qualified VA responders – at 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. More information can be found here.