WASHINGTON – On behalf of Maryland’s roughly 422,000 veterans, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) lauded Senate passage Monday of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act. The Clay Hunt SAV Act was among the first bills Senator Cardin cosponsored in the 114th Congress.
“We have an obligation to support our military men and women on the battlefield and on the home front from both the physical and mental threats to their survival and future success. Our veterans deserve the best possible support and medical care as they overcome challenges during their transition into civilian life. For years, I have expressed my concerns about the inadequacies of programs and studies that were in place to reduce military and veteran suicides and improve access to quality mental health care. Enactment of this legislation will help save lives and restore hope for our brave veterans and their families.”
The Clay Hunt Act increases access to mental health care by, among other things, creating a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning service members. It would also help better meet the need for mental health care providers by starting a pilot program to repay the student loan debt of psychiatrists who commit to working for the Veterans Health Administration. Additionally, the legislation calls for a third-party evaluation of the efficacy of existing Veterans Affairs programs. The legislation was cosponsored by 27 Senate Democrats, 18 Republicans and 2 Independents. The House companion bill, H.R. 203 passed the unanimously, 403-0.