Garamendi Joins President at Signing Ceremony for Bipartisan Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill
WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, today joined President Barack Obama at the signing ceremony for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, H.R. 203. This important bipartisan legislation, which Garamendi cosponsored and voted for in January, is designed to stem the epidemic of veteran suicide. They were joined by Democratic, Republican, and Independent Members of Congress as well as veterans, military family members, and veterans’ advocates.
“In America, far too many veterans take their lives every day, shattering families and cutting promising lives tragically short. Veterans, including many who live in the 3rd District, are coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq with traumatic brain injury and depression. We need to do much more to help them, and the SAV Act is a good start,” said Congressman Garamendi, a Member of the House Armed Services Committee who represents two Air Force base communities (Travis and Beale) in Congress.
“The toll of war isn’t always seen, but the physical and psychological effects last long after the war ends,” Garamendi added. “Veterans suffering from mental health problems need our compassion, solidarity, and support. I’m glad the Administration and Congress were able to work together on a plan to prevent veteran suicides. I look forward to monitoring the effectiveness of the SAV Act and to building upon this work.”
Named in honor of Marine Corporal Clay Hunt, an Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart and dedicated suicide prevention advocate who tragically took his own life – this bill expands access to mental health services for our nation’s veterans and increases the capacity and efficiency of VA care to deal with the challenge of more than one million veterans returning from war.
● Establishes a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning servicemembers with accessing VA mental health care services.
● Requires the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized information source regarding all mental health services for veterans.
● Takes steps to address the shortage of mental health care professionals by authorizing the VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists.
● Requires a yearly evaluation, conducted by a third party, of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the DOD and VA to find out what is working and what’s not working and to make recommendations to improve care.
● Authorizes a GAO report on the transition of care for PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) between the DOD and VA.
● The SAV Act has the support of Veterans Service Organizations including the Military Officers Association of America and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
For more information on suicide prevention and the veterans crisis line, visit: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/.
Congressman Garamendi represents California’s 3rd Congressional District, including the Beale and Travis Air Force Bases communities and thousands of veterans.