Tester hails passage of veterans suicide prevention act

Senate passes legislation to increase mental health resources at the VA

(U.S. SENATE)-Senator Jon Tester today hailed the passage of bipartisan legislation that bolsters suicide prevention efforts and provides more mental health resources to the VA.

The Clay Hunt SAV Act improves the VA’s suicide prevention program by helping the VA recruit additional mental health professionals, requiring annual independent reviews of suicide prevention programs, and developing a peer support network to improve the transition of service members leaving active duty.

“For too long our veterans have fought this battle alone. But today the Senate sent a message that we’re serious about treating the unseen wounds of war. This bill makes essential reforms to the VA and provides a strong foundation to improve mental health treatment for our veterans,” Tester said. “This is a strong step, but we still have a long way to go to deliver for our veterans and their families.”

The bill also increases combat eligibility for veterans who did not enroll in the VA during the five-year period following their discharge.

According to the VA, each day 22 veterans die by suicide in the United States.

Tester, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Ranking Member of the subcommittee that sets the VA’s budget, is an original cosponsor of the Clay Hunt SAV Act.

Last summer, Tester helped author the VA reform bill and held a statewide listening tour to hear from Montana veterans about obstacles to care at the VA. In response to the feedback he received, Tester recently introduced two packages of bills aimed at increasing access to health care and supporting employment for veterans and their families.