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IAVA Calls on House to Pass Veteran Suicide Prevention Bill

Clay Hunt SAV Act, spearheaded by IAVA, will go up for a vote this evening

Washington D.C. (January 12, 2015) – Later this evening, the House is expected to take up the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, H.R. 203, for a floor vote. The critical legislation, named after Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Clay Hunt, a Marine who died by suicide in 2011, increases access to quality mental health care and combats veteran suicide. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), which spearheaded the bill, implores members of the House to stand with the veteran community to curb veteran suicide and pass the bipartisan bill.

“After last year’s overwhelming support to pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act, IAVA members across the country are now looking to their lawmakers to see who will stand up for the veteran community,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “We encourage members of Congress to pass this much-needed legislation as 22 veterans die by suicide each day. We need all hands on deck to ensure veterans will get the mental health care they earned when they put on the uniform.”

According to IAVA’s 2014 member survey, 47 percent of respondents know at least one Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has attempted suicide, while 40 percent of respondents know someone who has died by suicide, up three points from 2013.

Supporters of the bill include lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, veteran service organizations and partners such as the American Psychiatric Association and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Reps. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) reintroduced the historic legislation last week. Currently 22 members of Congress have signed on to co-sponsor the bill.

 
·   Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
·   Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)
·   Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.)
·   Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)
·   Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.)
·   Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.)
·   Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)
·   Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.)
·   Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.)
·   Rep. Ben Lujan (D-N.M.)
·   Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.)
·   Rep. Richard Nolan (D-Minn.)
·   Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)
·   Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.)
·   Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)
·   Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.)
·   Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)
·   Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.)
·   Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.)
·   Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)

To support its legislative efforts, IAVA launched a petition in December after Sen. Coburn blocked the Clay Hunt SAV Act. To date, the grassroots petition currently includes more than 136,000 signatures of IAVA members and supporters. Click here to learn more.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.