Bustos Recognizes Anniversary of Clay Hunt SAV Act, Votes to Strengthen Suicide Prevention Programs for Female Veterans

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) recognized the anniversary of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act. Earlier this week, she also voted in favor of the Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, an addition to current efforts which aims to identify mental health and suicide prevention programs that are the most effective and result in the best outcomes among at-risk women veterans.

 

“We took an important step forward last year towards giving our veterans the support and heath care they need and deserve,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “This week, I’m proud of the bipartisan legislation we passed that will devote more resources to fight suicide among female veterans. This is a moral issue, and we can and must do more to address the epidemic of suicide among members of our armed forces. I will continue working across the aisle with my colleagues in Congress and with veteran advocates to ensure that all veterans receive the support they need.”

 

The Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to identify mental health and suicide prevention programs that are the most effective and result in the best outcomes among at-risk women veterans. The suicide rate of women veterans is nearly six times higher than non-veteran women; and shockingly, for women ages 18-29, the risk of suicide is even higher at nearly 12 times the rate of non-veteran women.

 

The VA is currently required to conduct annual evaluations of its suicide prevention and mental health programs under the Clay Hunt SAV Act. However, the VA does not know how well these programs are working for female veterans. The Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act would direct the VA to study which programs work best for male and female veterans.

 

Congresswoman Bustos was a strong supporter of the Clay Hunt SAV Act when it passed the House of Representatives last year. The bipartisan legislation was signed by President Barack Obama, and Congresswoman Bustos attended the signing ceremony at the White House. Further details about the Clay Hunt SAV Act are included below:

 

  • Establishes a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning service members with accessing VA mental health care services.
  • Requires the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized information source regarding all mental health services for veterans.
  • Takes steps to address the shortage of mental health care professionals by authorizing the VA to conduct a student loan repayment pilot program aimed at recruiting and retaining psychiatrists.
  • Requires yearly evaluations – with interim reports due in the first two years and a final report due the third year and every year after – conducted by a third party, of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what is working and what’s not working and to make recommendations to improve care.

 

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