Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) joined a bipartisan group in introducing comprehensive legislation designed to address the escalating rate of suicide among America’s veterans—the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.
“The suicide rate among America’s veterans represents a national crisis,” Braley said. “This legislation won’t solve the problem overnight—but it will get more resources where they’re desperately needed. Our commitment to America’s veterans needs to match the commitment they’ve made to us, especially when it comes to this issue.”
The bill is named after Clay Hunt, a decorated Marine combat veteran, whotook his own life in 2011 after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The act contains a host of provisions which include sections that would:
- Require an independent third party to annually evaluate the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs mental health care and suicide prevention programs.
- Require that a board of review, when looking at an appeal of a veteran who was discharged, must consider in their final decision if a veteran had Post Traumatic Stress or a Traumatic Brain Injury related to combat or military sexual trauma with evidence provided by the VA or civilian providers.
- Require the VA to publish an interactive website designed to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all mental health services.
- Require the VA and the National Guard to enter into partnerships in order to improve mental health treatment for servicemembers.
- Require a review of staffing requirements for states with respect to Directors of Psychological Health.
- Create a VA pilot program to assist veterans who are reintegrating back into the community, to assist with the difficult and unique challenges they face.
In April, Braley hosted a series of roundtables around the state listening to experts and veterans service organizations to discuss the high level of post-traumatic stress and high suicide rates that have been reported for servicemembers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Braley has championed the Veterans Access to Care Act, legislation that seeks to expand veterans’ access to quality healthcare by helping the Veterans Administration and state veterans’ homes recruit more highly-qualified doctors, nurses, and mental health providers to provide services to America’s veterans.