Kuster Applauds Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill Becoming Law
WASHINGTON, DC – This afternoon, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) applauded the signing of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law. Kuster cosponsored the Clay Hunt Act, which will provide oversight at the DOD and VA to help ensure all veterans can access the comprehensive mental health services they need. Kuster helped introduce the Clay Hunt Act last year after the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, on which she serves, uncovered instances of mismanagement and delayed care at VA centers across the country.
“Our service members courageously fought and sacrificed to protect our nation, and many of them had traumatic experiences while serving overseas. It is our responsibility as a country to ensure these men and women have access to the mental health services they need when they return to civilian life,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “No veteran should ever have to wait for this type of care, which can be critical for a full recovery. I was proud to help introduce this legislation last year, and I am so pleased that the President signed this bill into law so we can serve those who served us and increase access to the high-quality care every veteran deserves.”
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act is named after Clay Hunt, an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran who faced barriers to receiving mental health care at the VA, and whose Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome tragically led to his suicide. In his honor, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will implement a comprehensive, community-based approach to suicide prevention among former service members, and will increase oversight at the VA. The bill will require a third party to annually evaluate both the Department of Defense and the VA mental health and suicide prevention programs, and it will require the VA to develop an interactive website for mental health services that is integrated with the National Guard Bureau. The bill also addresses the deficiency of mental health professionals at the VA by creating an education loan repayment pilot program to recruit new practitioners to the VA.
Congresswoman Annie Kuster has served on the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee since taking office in 2013. Last year, Kuster helped oversee an investigation on the mismanagement scandals at the Phoenix VA and other VA medical centers around the country. She was recently selected to serve as the Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The daughter of a WWII veteran, Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated for the needs of New Hampshire veterans, and she frequently holds veteran roundtables, forums, and job fairs for Granite State veterans when she is back in the district.