Veteran suicide prevention bill, authored by Rep. Walz, passes House
(THE MED CITY BEAT) - The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill Monday night aimed at preventing veteran suicides.
It's the second time in five weeks the House has passed the Clay Hunt SAV Act, a $22 million funding bill co-authored by Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN). The bill was shot down last session in the Senate by former Sen. Tom Cuburn (R-OK), who argued the goals of the bill are already covered under programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But Coburn retired from the Senate last year, and the Military Times reports no current senators have publicly objected to the measure.
The bill would require the Pentagon and the VA to submit to independent reviews of their suicide prevention programs. It would also established a website to provide information on mental health services available to veterans and offer financial incentives to psychiatrists who agree to work for the VA.
The measure is named for Clay Hunt, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran from Houston who took his own life in 2011. The bill is supported by several veterans groups, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
An estimated 22 veterans take their life each day, the equivalent of a suicide every 65 minutes.