Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is leading the call for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to lift his hold on the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans (SAV) Act, so that it can proceed to the Senate for a vote. The legislation passed through the house with broad bipartisan support.
The Clay Hunt SAV Act will improve access to mental health care and increase peer and community support for veterans. By requiring increased regular screening evaluations for veterans, it directly addresses the common problem of the delayed emergence of PSTD symptoms including suicidality.
Clay Hunt’s suicide at age 28 was particularly shocking because he had worked extensively to help prevent suicide among his fellow veterans. And he had made a profound impact in the lives of others. After returning from Iraq, Clay worked with Jake Wood, who founded Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that uses military veterans’ skills for humanitarian aid work. The two fought together in Iraq and later brought their skills to regions such as Haiti following the hurricane devastation in 2008. Like many returning Marines, Clay was wary of stigma against inner wounds and reluctant to bring attention to his needs. Yet his death underscores the very need for the measures the Clay Hunt Act will bring.
Like Jeff Lucey’s parents (Kevin and Joyce Lucey), Clay’s parents, Susan and Richard Selke, have shown the courage to be publically visible and to turn the tragic loss of Clay into a push for reform. They should be lauded for their advocacy efforts and this bill needs to pass and begin implementation.
Mark Nickerson Dec. 15, 2014