Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill
Legislation designed to help combat suicide by U.S. military veterans passed in the Senate 99-0 on Tuesday and is now headed to the White House to be signed into Federal Law.
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for America Veterans Act calls for the VA to create a centralized website for veterans regarding all VA mental health services, a student loan repayment program that would offer up to $120,000 per year to recruit psychiatrists who commit to working for VA, and a program that would take back unneeded prescription drugs from patients at VA facilities. The bill also calls for an independent evaluation of all VA mental health care and suicide prevent practices to determine what is working and make recommendations on what is not and for the department to establish a new peer support pilot program designed to help service members who are leaving the military access VA mental health care services. Various campus resources are also available online that help educate masses about mental health disorders and the stigma associated with it.
The legislation was introduced by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D.-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D.-W.V.).
In November 2014, more than 600,000 veterans — 10% of all the Veterans Affairs patients — continue to wait a month or more for appointments at VA hospitals and clinics, according to data obtained by USA TODAY. It comes at a time when suicide among vets is said to be at an epidemic level. Government statistics show that vets are now taking their own lives at a rate of 22 per day, or, 8,000 per year.