WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, attended a bill signing ceremony today where President Obama signed legislation into law that aims to lower veteran suicides.
H.R. 203, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, 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.
“Clay Hunt’s story is one of bravery and details the urgency our nation’s heroes deserve. Today, we honor him and his family with this law to improve the VA mental healthcare system,” said Walorski. “While this law won’t bring Clay back, one veteran suicide is one too many, and it will help reduce the drastic number of veteran suicides, increase access to mental health care, and improve the quality of care our troops and veterans receive. Together, we can change this system so no other veteran ever has to endure what thousands of veterans have gone through, including Clay.”
Specifically the bill:
- Requires suicide-prevention programs within the Defense Department and VA undergo a third-party evaluation.
- Requires mental health programs to be examined and improved as well as require a website be established that focuses on mental health services for veterans.
- Encourages improved collaboration between the VA and outside veteran’s advocacy groups.
Earlier this year, Walorski spoke on the floor to support increased access to mental health care and improve the quality of care troops and veterans receive. Last July, Walorski heard testimony from Hunt’s mother who testified before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District in Indiana, where serves as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, House Armed Services Committee and House Committee on Agriculture.