Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly Tuesday helped pass bipartisan legislation aimed at improving mental health care and suicide prevention services for veterans. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act passed the Senate 99-0. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk.
Donnelly, who co-sponsored the Clay Hunt SAV Act, said, “With an estimated 22 veterans taking their lives every day, we must do more to prevent veteran suicide and improve mental health care services available to our heroes. This bipartisan bill is a step forward in addressing veteran suicide, and I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues on this critical issue.”
The Clay Hunt SAV Act includes provisions that would:
- Require an annual, independent, third-party evaluation of VA mental health and suicide prevention programs with a report due to Congress by December 1st every year;
- Require the VA to create and maintain a centralized website providing information on VA mental health services, updated at least every 90 days;
- Authorize the VA to collaborate with nonprofit mental health organizations on suicide prevention efforts through a new VA Director of Suicide Prevention Coordination; and
- Extend post-9/11 special combat eligibility for veterans benefits by one year for individuals discharged in 2009 and 2010.
Donnelly has worked to combat military suicide through his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee. In December, Donnelly’s signature legislation, the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act, was signed into law. The Sexton Act will require that all servicemembers, Active, Reserve, and Guard to have an annual mental health assessment starting this year. To learn more about the Sexton Act, click here.