Washington, D.C. – The United States Senate today approved the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which aims to reduce tragic instances of service member and veteran suicides. The final vote was 99-0 and Senator Collins is a cosponsor of the Senate version of this bill. This bill was approved by the House of Representatives last month and will now be sent to the President for his signature.
Following passage of the bill Senator Collins said, “Far too many men and women from our military are being lost to suicide. We must do all that we can to ensure that American veterans have access to immediate and high-quality mental health services when they are in crisis.”
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act is named after a Marine veteran who passed away by suicide in 2011. The bill will require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide additional resources related to mental health services for veterans and increase oversight and accountability of suicide prevention programs.
Senator Collins has fought to improve and increase access to mental health services for service members and veterans. In 2011, she authored a law that allowed mental health treatment through telehealth, and in 2010, she co-authored a law that expanded the number of mental health professionals that can diagnose and treat individuals through TRICARE without first obtaining a physician’s referral. As a result of her efforts, the Drug Enforcement Agency revised its regulations to allow for the Department of Defense and VA to collect unwanted, unused prescription drugs, thereby reducing the chance that these substances could be misused or abused. Senator Collins’ work on this issue was supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.