SAV Act Clears Senate
VFW says more suicide prevention improvements still needed
February 03, 2015
WASHINGTON — The Senate today passed H.R. 203,
the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, which will
help incentivize more psychiatrists to work at Department of Veterans Affairs
medical facilities, to expand VA’s successful peer support networks, and to
authorize VA to collaborate with local nonprofit mental health organizations.
The bill now moves to the White House for the president’s signature.
are thankful that the SAV Act takes these important steps, but more still needs
to be done to help prevent military and veteran suicides,” said John W. Stroud,
the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
health and suicide prevention have been top VFW legislative priorities for
years, according to Stroud, whose organization has pushed consistently for
reforms like improved peer-to-peer counseling, telemedicine, increased mental
health staffing, and enlisting alternative treatment options in both the
military and VA health care systems, as well as from the civilian community.
However, a major concern is that some service members are being kicked out of
the military for so-called preexisting conditions without first being properly
diagnosed or treated, meaning they could easily be denied critical VA care and
benefits after they are discharged.
VFW worked closely with the bill’s architects, House VA Committee Chairman Jeff
Miller (R-Fla.) and Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), to include provisions that would
improve mental health partnerships with Reserve Components, and to review
less-than-honorable discharges, the cause of which could have been induced by
post-traumatic stress associated with military service. Those improvements
ended up being dropped from the original bill when it was introduced near the
end of the 113th Congress, where it stalled in the Senate. That same bill was
reintroduced into the new Congress where it was passed, but again without the
are hopeful that the president will soon sign the Clay Hunt SAV Act,” said
Stroud, “because it does strengthen and expand the mental health programs and
services currently available to service members and veterans. What the SAV Act
doesn’t do is go far enough, which are provisions we will work with Congress to
insert into the next suicide prevention legislation.”
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