Get help nowCall or Text 988
Clay Hunt SAV Act
It is estimated that 22 military veterans die by suicide every day. In 2011, Clay Hunt, 28, was one of the many soldiers who took his own life.
Clay Hunt served our country as a Marine in both Afghanistan, Iraq, and in 2007 was shot in the wrist by a sniper in Fallujah. When Hunt came home from his tour, he struggled with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and decided to make humanitarianism part of his therapy. He volunteered in Haiti and Chile after the earthquakes, and even appeared in a public service announcement about suicide prevention for vets (CNN.com).
Adjusting to civilian life was a challenge for Hunt, as his PTSD interfered with his ability to hold down a job. Hunt was only receiving 30% disability for his PTSD and two other smaller health issues after leaving the military. He applied to receive more assistance after losing his garage job, due to his panic attacks. This appeal was met with significant barriers, including the VA losing his medical files.
Hunt was an advocate for his own mental health care, and consistently voiced concerns about the treatment he was receiving. He had to wait months just to see a psychiatrist at the Houston VA medical center, and would say, “I’m a guinea pig for drugs. They’ll put me on one thing, I’ll have side-effects, and then they put me on something else.” He explained how his therapy consisted of discussing his current medication and nothing else (CNN.com).
Only two weeks after visiting the Houston VA, Hunt killed himself.
Eighteen months after filing his disability appeal, the VA rated his PTSD 100%. His mother received this notification five weeks after he died. His family has worked tirelessly on raising awareness of suicide, and increasing the availability of mental health services for veterans. They played a key role in promoting The Clay Hunt Act.
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act is a significant piece of legislation that aims to help reduce military and veteran suicides and improve access to quality mental health care (IAVA.org).
• It will increase access to mental health care by, among other things, creating a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning service members as well as a one-stop, interactive website of available resources.
• Better meet the demand for mental health care by starting a pilot program to repay the loan debt of students in psychiatry so it is easier to recruit them to work at the VA.
• Boost the accountability of mental health care by requiring an annual evaluation of VA mental health and suicide-prevention programs (IAVA.org).
On January 7th, 2015, The House version of the act was introduced by Tim Walz, Jeff Miller, and Tammy Duckworth. The bill passed unanimously, and was sent to the Senate for consideration.
John McCain, Richard Blumenthal, and 18 co-sponsors introduced the bill to the Senate on January 13th. On February 3rd the Clay Hunt SAV Act was unanimously passed by the Senate with a vote of 99-0 (IAVA.org).
This bill gives a renewed sense of hope to the millions of veterans who are struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder.
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, The Omaha Food Bank and YWCA. Jill joined The Kim Foundation as Project Coordinator in April 2014.