02.12.15

Veteran's Assistance Bill, "Clay Hunt SAV Act," Becomes Law

WASHINGTON, DC –  Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) issued the following statement on the Presidential signing of H.R. 203, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, into law.

“Our veterans have made countless sacrifices on behalf of this country and they deserve better. The Clay Hunt SAV Act will provide much-needed resources to combat the epidemic of veteran suicide,” said Senator Burr. “I could not be more pleased to see my legislation signed into law today and I will continue to support efforts to provide care for our nation’s heroes." 

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act passed the Senate unanimously earlier in February.

Specifically, the bill provides for better access to information on mental health by improving the exchange of training, best practices, and other resources among the VA and non-profit mental health organizations to enhance collaboration of suicide prevention efforts, as well as including a new website that offers veterans information on mental health care services. It creates a pilot program of loan repayment for VA psychiatrists. The Clay Hunt SAV Act also creates a community outreach pilot program to help veterans transition from active duty service and extends the ability for certain combat veterans to enroll in the Veterans Health Administration for one year.

Background:

The legislation is named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28. Clay enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2005 and deployed to Anbar Province, near Fallujah, in January 2007. He was shot in the wrist by a sniper’s bullet that barely missed his head, earning him a Purple Heart. Clay recuperated at Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., and then graduated from Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in March 2008. He redeployed to southern Afghanistan a few weeks later. His unit returned in late October 2008 and he was honorably discharged from the Marines in April 2009. After returning home, Clay struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder for many years as he was provided care at his local VA hospital before taking his own life.