Obama signs veteran suicide prevention bill


 (from left) Clinical mental health counseling major Jessica Knicely, justice studies major Ryan Lewand and educational studies major Tiffany Hawley, all veterans, listen to psychologist Dr. Kirsten DeLambo, Ph.D, at a Peer Mental Suicide Training. DeLamdo discussed topics such as suicide prevention, challenges facing veterans, PTSD, depression and other mental health disorders at the session, which was on the third floor of the Student Center on Friday Feb. 6, 2015.

Sky Fought

President Barack Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act earlier this month. Acknowledging the mental struggles service members endure, the U.S. Senate voted 99-0 to pass the law while the House of Representatives voted 403-0 in favor of the law.

 “Today we honor a man who isn’t here but should be here,” said Obama at the White House signing ceremony. 

 The bill is named after Clay Hunt, a 28-year-old veteran of the Marine Corps who committed suicide in 2011. After returning home to Texas from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 “He suffered physical injuries that healed, and he suffered invisible wounds that stayed with him,” Obama said. “By all accounts, he was selfless, and he was brave.”

 The Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 22 veterans kill themselves every day. Many veterans face unemployment, homelessness, addiction and other problems as they try to cope with their overseas experiences. 

 The Clay Hunt Act works to ensure the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has what it needs to help veterans in these areas. The act requires independent reviews of the VA and the Department of Defense programs that are focused on preventing

veteran suicide.

 It also works to create peer support and community outreach programs for veterans. The bill will offer incentives to mental health professionals who help veterans struggling during their transition back to civilian life.

 “If you are hurting, know this,” Obama said, “you are not forgotten.”

Contact Sky Fought at [email protected].