02.03.15

Gary Peters Applauds Passage of Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill

Peters Cosponsored Senate Version of Bill That Now Heads to the President’s Desk

 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today applauded unanimous passage in the Senate of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention For American Veterans Act. Peters cosponsored the Senate version of the bipartisan legislation that would improve mental health care and suicide prevention for veterans. The legislation unanimously passed the House of Representatives earlier this month and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“I’m pleased that Congress put politics aside and passed this bipartisan legislation so that our veterans, who have put their lives on the line to protect our way of life, get the care they deserve,” Sen. Peters said. “Far too often, our servicemen and women bear the invisible wounds of war in solitude, and this bill is a good first step in reducing the number of suicides among returning servicemembers. Our brave men and women had our backs as they sacrificed to defend our country and values, and now it’s our turn to have theirs.”

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will increase access to mental health care by requiring a third party to evaluate the effectiveness of suicide programs at the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and make recommendations on improvements. Additionally, the bill would create a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning service members; create a new website with information on available mental health care resources; enhance collaboration among suicide prevention programs; extend the ability for certain combat veterans to enroll in the Veterans Health Administration for one year; and create a pilot loan repayment program for VA psychiatrists.

The legislation is named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28 after suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for many years and struggling with inadequate care at his local VA hospital before taking his own life.

Standing up for our veterans is a personal priority for Senator Peters. The son of a World War II veteran, Peters served in the U.S. Navy Reserve for more than a decade, becoming a Seabee combat warfare specialist and rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

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