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Congressman Higgins Announces Approval of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced approval of H.R. 5059, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act for American Veterans (SAV) Act.  This legislation creates a comprehensive community response for coordinated mental health care at Veterans Hospitals across the country.  Congressman Higgins cosponsored this legislation.

“Thousands of men and women devote their lives every day to serve our country,” said Congressman Higgins. “We cannot turn our backs on these individuals.  This legislation is a step forward to protecting the safety of these service men and women.”  

The Clay Hunt SAV Act is a first step to mitigate the tragic amount of suicides committed by veterans every day.  The legislation requires the Veterans Administration (VA) to develop an interactive website for mental health services to better facilitate coordinated care.  It also requires a third party to annually evaluate both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA mental health and suicide prevention programs.  And finally, to address the lack of mental health professions currently serving the VA, the bill provides an education loan repayment pilot program to individuals pursuing psychiatric services and working at VHA hospitals.

Since 2001, over two million US soldiers have served in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.  An estimated 600,000 soldiers have a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression.  Approximately 22 veterans commit suicide every day, totaling 8,000 veterans each year. 

New York State is home to more than 800,000 veterans and the 26th Congressional District alone is home to almost 50,000 veterans.  Congressman Higgins has made veterans affairs one of his top priorities since joining the House of Representatives.  

Any veteran suffering from severe depression and thoughts of suicide are encouraged to call the 24 hour Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, press 1 for immediate assistance.