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Peters Cosponsors Legislation to Prevent Veteran Suicide

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters today announced he has cosponsored the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention For American Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation that would improve mental health care and suicide prevention for veterans. It is estimated that around 22 veterans succumb to suicide each day, often without the resources that would have prevented the suicide. The bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

“Our brave men and women have risked their lives to protect our nation, and we owe it to the have their backs when they come home,” Senator Peters said. “It is unacceptable that an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day, which often times can be prevented if they had the resources they earned. This bill is a good first step on a long road to ensuring that help is there for our nation’s heroes as they transition from active duty service to civilian life.”

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.