Sen. Ernst Supports Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill

Written by Theresa Rose on February 3, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today voted in favor of H.R. 203, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, a bill to strengthen mental health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This legislation is named in honor of veterans’ advocate, Marine Cpl. Clay Hunt, who struggled to find adequate mental health care and later committed suicide.

“The invisible wounds of war cannot go unnoticed. The Clay Hunt SAV Act lays the groundwork for improved mental health care that our returning men and women deserve,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “This bipartisan legislation would provide the added support our veterans deserve by building and expanding programs like peer-to-peer support systems; recruitment of mental health professionals; collaboration between the VA and non-profit mental health organizations; and increased oversight of the VA. It is critical that President Obama works with us and signs the Clay Hunt SAV Act into law to ensure that our veterans have the access they deserve to quality mental health care.”

The Clay Hunt SAV Act passed the Senate by a vote of 99 to 0. The bipartisan bill was re-introduced by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

About the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act

· The bill requires th​e Secretary of Veterans Affairs to evaluate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ mental health care and suicide prevention programs each year.

· A measure in the bill establishes a peer-to-peer support pilot program to improve access to mental health services for veterans, and assist veterans in their transition from active duty.

· A measure in the bill establishes an educational loan repayment program for psychiatrists of the Veterans Health Administration, aimed to attract and retain psychiatrists.

· The bill increases collaboration between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and non-profit mental health organizations in the united effort to prevent suicide among veterans.

· The bill has widespread support from veterans’ organizations across the country, including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

· The Clay Hunt SAV Act passed the House of Representatives earlier this month with unanimous support.