Preventing suicides among veterans is at center of bill passed by Senate

February 13, 2015

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The New York Times

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives have now unanimously passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, and President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law soon. Named for a Marine veteran who died by suicide in 2011, this legislation is intended to strengthen services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in several ways. The VA’s mental health and suicide prevention programs will now receive external evaluations, with the goal of promoting successful models and sharing them more widely among the system’s 800 facilities. In at least five of the VA’s regional networks, a peer-support program will be piloted, providing veterans who have mental health concerns with mentors who have lived through similar problems. To address a shortage of mental health providers in the system, another provision of the bill will fund student debt repayment for psychiatrists who join the VA. “We owe these wounded warriors more effective psychiatric services and counseling,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “This bill will help save lives, but still it’s only a first step.”

Editors’ note: President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Act into law on Thursday, February 12, 2015.

Spark Extra! These guidelines, with an accompanying pocket guide and patient safety plan worksheet, provide evidence-based recommendations for practitioners throughout the DoD and VA Health Care systems.