Today Senators Jon Tester & Steve Daines hailed the passage of bipartisan legislation that bolsters suicide prevention efforts and provides more mental health resources to the VA.
The Clay Hunt SAV Act improves the VA’s suicide prevention program by helping the VA recruit additional mental health professionals, requiring annual independent reviews of suicide prevention programs, and developing a peer support network to improve the transition of service members leaving active duty.

“For too long our veterans have fought this battle alone.  But today the Senate sent a message that we’re serious about treating the unseen wounds of war.  This bill makes essential reforms to the VA and provides a strong foundation to improve mental health treatment for our veterans,” Tester said.  “This is a strong step, but we still have a long way to go to deliver for our veterans and their families.”

The bill also increases combat eligibility for veterans who did not enroll in the VA during the five-year period following their discharge.

“The tragic epidemic of veteran suicide will continue unless we take concrete steps to improve our veterans’ access to the care they need and increase community support for those who are suffering from mental health wounds,” Daines stated. “Our men and women in uniform deserve to know that when they return home, we will be standing with them and working tirelessly to ensure that their mental health and medical needs are met.”

According to the VA, each day 22 veterans die by suicide in the United States. The legislation is named for Clay Hunt, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28.