U.S. Senate moves forward on trying to prevent veterans from committing suicide

By Stephen Jordan, National Monitor | February 03, 2015

U.S. Senate moves forward on trying to prevent veterans from committing suicide

Clay Hunt veterans suicide prevention act passes in Senate, will head to White House.

Depression and post traumatic stress disorder are all too real symptoms that many war veterans must battle with once they return home, and those very same foes caused Marine Clay Hunt to take his own life. Hunt committed suicide in 2011, even though he was, in a tragically-ironic circumstance, giving his time to aid other veterans trying to cope with normal civilian life again.

His sudden death was able to help jump-start an effort to provide a higher quality of care for suicidal veterans or those otherwise battling severe mental health issues. The US Senate on Tuesday, approved legislation to establish better suicide prevention and psychological treatment programs (subjected to outside evaluations) at the Department of Veterans Affairs, with a unanimous vote of 99 to zero, and passed unanimously in the House vote as well.

The bill itself will now go to the White House, where the anticipation will be on President Obama to sign the document. This act will trigger an odd degree of bipartisan agreement up on Capitol Hill, where the cause had faded away in late 2014 due to a parliamentary maneuver.

The statistics on the matter are truly sobering, as the latest data shows that about 22 veterans take their own lives every day. Many of these individuals are older veterans and a survey which was done by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, discovered that two out of five of its members had been in close contact with a veteran who had killed themselves.

The organization’s founder and chief executive is Paul Rieckhoff, who stated after the bill was passed: “While we are thrilled about today’s vote, all of us must remember the sobering reality that necessitated this action: the invisible wounds of war and our nation’s initial failure to treat them.”

A peer-support pilot program will also be enacted, where returning veterans can join with colleagues to discuss their mental health concerns. A website will also be added, to allow veterans to find all of the departments prevention and care resources, while also allowing for school debt repayments for psychiatric doctors who become members of the agency.

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