Your Washington Desk
Isakson, Blumenthal Praise Unanimous Senate Passage of Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill
‘The Clay Hunt SAV Act’ heads to president’s desk in show of strong bipartisan, bicameral support
U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, praised Senate passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act today by a vote of 99-0.
The legislation (H.R.203) — passed unanimously out of the Senate VA Committee on Jan. 21, 2015, as the committee’s first priority this Congress — seeks to improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for American veterans.
“I am pleased the full Senate acted quickly following VA Committee passage on this urgent legislation,” said Isakson, who also is a veteran. “When you have 8,000 veterans a year committing suicide – which is more veterans than have died in all of Iraq and all of Afghanistan since we’ve been fighting – then you have a serious problem. This legislation is an important step toward providing better access to mental health resources for our veterans.”
“This breakthrough bipartisan step will help countless veterans overcome invisible wounds of war that lead to 22 tragic suicides every day,” said Blumenthal. “We owe these wounded warriors more effective mental health care, so they can win the war against inner demons that come home from service. This bill will help save lives – courageous, strong veterans who need and deserve enhanced psychiatric care, counseling, outreach support and accountability from the Veterans Administration. A friend of mine, Justin Eldridge of southeastern Connecticut, braved mortar fire and snipers in Afghanistan, returning to his young family with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. Tragically, he slipped through the cracks at his local VA facility and eventually took his own life. As brave as he was on the battlefield, he could not win his war at home. We have an obligation to keep faith with our veterans, and this legislation – providing an impartial review of VA mental health programs, more centralized information and outreach, more support for VA psychiatrists – constitutes an important step.”