Today President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act at the White House. This piece of legislation named in honor of Clay Hunt, an Iraq war veteran who was a tireless advocate for suicide prevention amongst veterans and active duty members. Unfortunately, wrought by the pressures of his service and the tragic loss of two of his combat friends, Hunt took his own life in 2011.
The Clay Hunt SPAV act is multi-faceted. It aims to:
Help fill critical gaps in serving veterans with PTSD and other illnesses
Increase peer support and outreach to service members as they transition to civilian life
Recruit talented psychiatry students to fill post-graduate jobs at the Veterans Administration
Make veteran care easier and more accessible
And enforce strict accountability measures, so improvement in veterans can be tracked and more can be learned
Clay Hunt’s family was in attendance for the remarks and signing of the bill. The speech also enjoyed bipartisan attendance from several members of congress, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), an Iraq War veteran and the first disabled female to serve in congress.
President Obama made an appeal for this trans-partisan issue to be on the forefront of all of our minds. He said, “We thank all the military families who have lost a loved one, families here today who channeled their grief into helping others. They believe, as we all do, that we have to end this tragedy of suicide among our troops and veterans”.
Decorated Marine Core veteran Jake Wood, who was a close friend of Clay, introduced President Obama. Wood also is the Co-Founder and Executive Officer of Team Rubicon, a nationwide nonprofit aimed at providing veterans with the opportunity to continue their service in response to national disasters and global crises.