WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today voted in favor of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which helps veterans transition from active duty service and improves access to mental health care and suicide prevention resources. The bipartisan bill, which Sen. Capito co-sponsored, passed the Senate unanimously and heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Sen. Capito issued the following statement regarding the bill’s passage:
“West Virginia has a significant veteran population and we owe it to these brave men and women to ensure they receive the support and care they deserve. The statistics surrounding suicide and our service members are staggering – more active duty soldiers die from suicide than combat, and 22 veterans commit suicide each day. We simply cannot allow this tragedy to continue.
“We can never do enough to thank the brave soldiers who have fought for our freedom, but we can start by making sure we provide more resources to help our heroes. I am proud to be a co-sponsor the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act and I’m pleased Republicans and Democrats came together to support this very important legislation.”
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act requires an independent third party evaluation of existing mental health care and suicide prevention programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify areas for improvement. It also directs the VA to create a new website providing veterans information on mental health care services.
In order to attract mental health professionals to the VA, the bill also creates a three-year pilot loan repayment program for graduates with degrees related to psychiatric medicine who commit to a period of service with the VA. And, it creates a community outreach pilot program to assist veterans transitioning from active duty service.
This bill is named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and earned a Purple Heart after being shot in the wrist by a sniper’s bullet that barely missed his head. Hunt was honorably discharged from the Marines in April 2009. After returning home, he struggled with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder for many years before taking his own life in March 2011 at age 28.