California Vets Urge Congress to pass Clay Hunt SAV Act
LOS ANGELES, CA (September 12, 2014) – As National Suicide Prevention Month continues in September, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, will meet with local vets and post-9/11 families in Los Angeles, CA as the Convoy to Combat Suicide resumes with several Linkin Park concerts in Hollywood, Chula Vista, Wheatland and Concord.
IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff will also be speaking on a panel at the Veterans Innovation Summit for Investing & Technology (VISIT) to Improve the Lives of Military Veterans, produced by the Infinite Hero Foundation on Monday, September 15 at Oakley Global Headquarters in Foothill Ranch, CA. More information can be found here.
“One out of every eight IAVA members hail from California,” said Rieckhoff. “Los Angeles – home to Operation Mend and USC’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families – is one example of a city making the transition to civilian life for post-9/11 veterans easier. However, there is still room for improvement. California has a high unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans, standing at 10.1 percent, well above the national average. Veterans are waiting over 180 days on average for their disability benefits. During Suicide Prevention Month we hope to work with California lawmakers to pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act to combat veteran suicide and improve access to mental health care and continue to spread awareness of resources available at events with Linkin Park.”
There are more than 1,800,000 veterans in California, including 237,792 who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Los Angeles veterans face a number of critical challenges. In California, as well as across the country, suicide is a top concern for new veterans: at least 22 veterans die by suicide every day.
More than 263,000 veterans are stuck in the VA backlog, including more than 9,000
in the Los Angeles regional office, who are waiting more than 125 days for a claim. The average wait time in Los Angeles is 184.2 days.
California is also home to IAVA’s Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP), an innovative approach to supporting post-9/11 veterans by directly connecting them and their families to local resources and to one-on-one support with IAVA’s Veteran Transition Managers. RRRP helps cut through red tape and provides California post-9/11 veterans and their families with access to services ranging across employment, education, housing, mental health and more.
Veterans can contact a California RRRP case manager by calling 855-91-RAPID (855-917-2743), emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting www.IAVA.org/RRRP.
As part of the “We’ve Got Your Back: IAVA’s Campaign to Combat Suicide” IAVA is calling on Congress to pass comprehensive legislation expanding mental health care for veterans and ensuring that they have extended access to that care. IAVA is pushing for bipartisan support for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (Clay Hunt SAV Act), H.R. 5059.