In a rare convergence of human decency and common sense, Congress has passed a bill and President Obama will sign it. H.R. 203, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act(Clay Hunt SAV Act), introduced by Rep. Timothy J. Waltz (D-MN), is named for a Marine Corps veteran and sniper who took his own life in 2011, after having served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He was just one of the estimated 8,000 veterans who commit suicide each year, at the shocking rate of some 22 per day.
In a press release yesterday, Speaker of the House John Boehner’s office told Clay Hunt’s story:
Clay Hunt was a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, where he was awarded a Purple Heart, and later on redeployed to Afghanistan. After returning home, he dedicated his life to helping others put their lives back together – volunteering in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and working with fellow veterans dealing with the psychological and physical wounds of war. Like many veterans, Clay struggled with the invisible wounds of war, and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. And despite working to address his PTSD and depression head on, he was faced with inadequate resources and care. At age 28, Clay took his own life.
Tragically, Clay’s story is all too common. Veterans’ suicides are occurring at a rate of 22 per day. As Clay’s mother, Susan Selke said, “Not one more veteran should have to go through what Clay went through.”
The House approved H.R. 203 on January 12 on a 403-0 vote. The bill passed the Senate on February 3 by a 99-0 vote, after being derailed last year by a single vote, that of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) who objected it would add $22 million to federal spending.
Having expressed strong support for the Clay Hunt Act, President Obama will sign the bill into law Thursday, reports The Hill, in a public signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House.