By Debbie Gregory.
Last week, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee voted to send legislation, aimed to combat the high rate of suicide among Veterans, to the Senate floor.
The committee’s play comes just over a week after the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act was reintroduced in the Senate, after overwhelmingly passing in the House twice within a month’s time.
The Clay Hunt SAV Act was named for a 28 year-old Marine Corps Veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and committed suicide in 2011.
The heavily publicized bill was headed for easy passage in December, 2014, when it failed due to a procedural maneuver by then-Senator Tom Coburn, who has since retired. Coburn, who claimed that the bill merely duplicated existing VA programs and did not offer enough new resources for its $22 million price tag, essentially killed the bill with a legislative hold that prevented a Senate vote.
Several Veterans advocacy groups and military associations vowed to reintroduce the Clay Hunt SAV Act as soon as the new Congress convened in January, 2015.
And true to their word, the Clay Hunt SAV Act of 2015 was introduced in the House as H.R. 203 on January 7, 2015, virtually unchanged from the measure that failed just days prior. The 2015 bill was passed unanimously in the House on January 12th, and returned to the Senate the next day. So far, there appears to be no opposition to the bill.
On January 21st, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee agreed to send the Clay Hunt SAV Act of 2015 to the Senate’s calendar under General Orders. The Senate could vote on the bill as early as this week.
There are over 8,000 Veteran suicides each year, which averages out to approximately 22 suicides each day. Currently, the Clay Hunt SAV Act is the leading measure on the table for combating these numbers. Be sure to track this measure and how your elected leaders vote on it by frequenting MilitaryConnection.com and www.Congress.gov.
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