Three years ago, I lost my son, Clay Hunt, to suicide.
And today, I testified about his experiences in front of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
Clay enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2005. He deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq – where he earned a Purple Heart. After he returned from Iraq, Clay suffered from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and survivor’s guilt. He worked hard to move forward and found healing by helping people, including humanitarian work with Team Rubicon and participating in IAVA’s annual Storm the Hill advocacy campaign.
During this transition, Clay also sought treatment at VA medical centers in Los Angeles, Grand Junction, CO and Houston. He was given a variety of medications to treat his PTS symptoms, but never received the help he truly needed. He appealed his original disability rating for PTS, when he realized it was interfering with his ability to hold a job in 2009.
On March 31, 2011, Clay took his own life.
He was still waiting for his appeal to go through. But then, five weeks after his death (and eighteen months after filing the appeal), Clay’s appeal finally was approved. The VA rated Clay’s PTS at 100 percent.
But it was too late.
Clay’s death has been the hardest thing I have ever faced. Not one more veteran should have to go through what Clay went through with the VA after returning home from war. Not one more parent should have to testify before a congressional committee to compel the VA to fulfill its responsibilities to those who served.
But with that said, I’m pleased to tell you that earlier today, Representative Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, introduced the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.
With 22 veterans taking their own lives every day – yes, 22 – legislation like this is critical to reaching our brave men and women before it’s too late.
Please call your Representative today at 1-855-971-0769 or text “CLAY” to 69866 to be connected immediately and tell your Congressman to support the Clay Hunt SAV Act. It’s quick and it’s easy.
You can help make a difference for our veterans. I believe this bill would have helped Clay get the care he needed. It might have saved his life.
Let’s do what we can to help countless others.