President Obama Signs Suicide Prevention Measure for Veterans Into Law | Law Firm Newswire

President Obama Signs Suicide Prevention Measure for Veterans Into Law

Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) March 13, 2015 - Reformed suicide-specific programs and services at VA will focus the department on mental health.

On February 12, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, a measure designed to combat a longstanding, serious problem in the United States. The president’s signature quickly followed unanimous support for the legislation in both the House and Senate earlier in the month.

The new law was named in honor of Clay Hunt, a Marine from Texas whose combat service overseas was followed by a long struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder after he returned home. Clay ultimately took his own life at the age of 28, and his family and friends have urged the federal government to focus on suicides among veterans. Hunt’s mother, Susan Selke, stood by the president’s side as he signed the measure.

Under the new law, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ suicide prevention and mental health treatment programs will be reformed in several key ways. All programs will be subject to independent evaluations, and incentives created to boost the recruitment and retention of mental health professionals. A variety of resources will become available to veterans on a new, interactive website, and veterans will have an additional year to avail themselves of VA healthcare without first proving that their disability is service-related.

“Increased outside oversight, user-friendly resources and an improved VA professional staff are all welcome means to make it easier for veterans to get the help they need when they return home from service,” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida who specializes in legal services for veterans. “And the extra year of healthcare prior to proving a service-related disability could be critical in helping out those veterans trying to readjust to stateside life while burdened with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.”

According to some estimates, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. Those who take their own lives include both recent returnees from Afghanistan and Iraq and older veterans. And while veterans represents less than 13 percent of the population, they account for 20 percent of the nation’s suicides every year. Furthermore, studies have found that the suicide rate is higher among those veterans who do not receive mental healthcare.

“The suicide rate among veterans is an increasingly serious national issue that has been begging for attention for far too long,” Magann said. “The new law removes some of the institutional impediments that have made it difficult for high-risk veterans to get the care they need at a time when they may need it the most.”

David W. Magann, P.A.
Main Office:
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
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