Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act
If you are the parent of a combat Marine who is struggling with reintegration, please contact us. We offer education and a place to connect and share with others who understand the helplessness you may be feeling. We have been in touch with far too many veterans and veteran families affected by suicide from suicide attempt survivors to families mourning the unbearable loss of their loved one to suicide. Our Marine Parents Founder said it best: "One suicide is too many. One more suicide is too late."
On January 12, 2015, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, H.R. 203, which was signed into law one month later on February 12. On February 3, 2015, the Senate unanimously passed a similar bill.
The bill, named after a Marine veteran who committed suicide in 2011, is designed to help combat veteran suicides, and is being praised by veterans and suicide prevention groups as a victory in the war against this on-going problem.
The Senate bill calls for the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a website that will serve as a one-stop source of information on mental health services provided by the VA, for the VA to address a shortage of mental health care experts by allowing it (the VA) to recruit experts through a student loan repayment pilot program, and to extend the amount of time veterans have to seek mental health care services at VA to better address conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress.
The bill also calls for an evaluation of all VA mental health care and suicide prevention practices to determine what is working and make recommendations on what is not. It also calls for the VA to establish a new peer support program designed to help service members who are leaving the military access VA mental health services.
The House bill calls for the same actions to be taken on the part of the VA, as well as for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to arrange for an independent third party evaluation, to be conducted by September 30, 2018, and each fiscal year thereafter, of the VA's mental health care and suicide prevention programs; and submit a report to Congress, by December 1, 2018, and each year thereafter, containing the most recent evaluations not yet submitted to Congress and any recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate.
Additionally, the House bill extends for one year a combat veterans' eligibility for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for illnesses that have not been medically proven to be attributable to their service, provided they: were discharged or released from active duty between January 1, 2009, and January 1, 2011, and did not enroll to receive such care during the five-year period of eligibility following their discharge.
What Does This Mean?
Affected Veterans can advantage of this enhanced enrollment opportunity until February 12, 2016 (when the law ends) by applying for enrollment online at www.va.gov/healthbenefits on the VA's website, on eBenefits at ebenefits.va.gov, by phone at 1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST., or by visiting their local VA medical center.
To learn more about the story behind the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act or the Clay Hunt SAV Act and the story behind the Marine who inspired the law, you can follow the links below.
Remarks from President Barack Obama during the signing of the Clay Hunt SAV Act.
VA news and how the Clay Hunt SAV Act will affect benefits for some veterans.
Congressional records regarding the Clay Hunt SAV Act.