Co-sponsored bill to lower veteran suicides
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) thanked her Senate colleagues for passing House legislation that will reduce the number of veterans and troops who commit suicide. The bill, H.R. 203, which she co-sponsored, provides greater access to mental health care. According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA), 22 veterans commit suicide every day.
“Today is another example of the 114th Congress taking action to pass meaningful legislation, in today’s case helping our brave servicemen and women receive mental healthcare when needed. I applaud my Senate colleagues for following the House in passing this bill to improve the access and effectiveness of mental health care available to our returning heroes,” Walorski said.
Specifically the bill:
- Requires suicide-prevention programs within the Defense Department and VA undergo a third-party evaluation.
- Examines which mental health programs could be improved.
- Requires a website be established that focuses on mental health services for veterans.
- Encourages improved collaboration between the VA and outside veteran’s advocacy groups.
Last July, Walorski heard testimony from Hunt’s mother who testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The bill passed the Senate today by a vote of 99-0 and passed the House unanimously last month 403-0. The bill now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.
The bill was named in honor of Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran, Clay Hunt who took his own life after battling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his service overseas. Hunt relied on the VA for care and received a 30 percent disability rating for his PTSD. He appealed the rating and encountered administrative obstacles, including the VA losing his files. Hunt took his life weeks later. Five weeks after his death, and 18 months after filing an appeal with the VA for his PTSD rating, his appeal was approved.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District in Indiana, where she serves as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and House Budget Committee.