Congressman Tim Ryan Applauds Passage of New Measure to Prevent Veteran Suicides

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan today applauded the unanimous House passage of bipartisan legislation to address the epidemic of suicide among our nation’s veterans. 

“I am heartbroken by the staggering number of our veterans who are suffering from PTSD and TBI,” said Congressman Ryan. “As co-chairman of the Military Mental Health Caucus I was pleased this legislation passed and that it provides our men and women in uniform the care and support they have earned and so deeply deserve. It is shameful that more veterans have died from suicide than died in combat in recent years. We must do everything in our power to stem the tide of this national tragedy. While this bill is a step in the right direction, we still have a lot of work left to be done.”

Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day – more than 8,000 every year.  Of the more than 2 million Americans who have served in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is estimated that one-third, roughly 600,000 women and men, have traumatic brain injury, PTSD or depression.  Named in honor of an Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran and noted suicide prevention advocate who took his own life on March 31, 2011, The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (H.R. 5059) is another step toward ensuring our nation’s veterans have the support they need by expanding access to and improving the effectiveness of mental health care for our veterans.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will establish a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning service members with accessing VA mental health care services.  To ease access to services, the bill will require the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all mental health services for veterans.  A student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists included in the legislation will help address the shortage of mental health care professionals.  To improve care, the legislation will require an annual, third-party evaluation of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not.