WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, spoke in support of The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act. The Senate passed this bill that will improve mental health care and suicide prevention resources for veterans by increasing access to mental health programs, providing incentives to recruit and retain psychiatrists to treat veterans and enhancing resources for members of the military transitioning to civilian life.
“VA estimates 22 veterans commit suicide every day. This trend is tragic and unacceptable. We need to provide VA with the personnel, services and proper tools to help veterans facing mental illness struggles,” Boozman said on the senate floor.
Boozman highlighted the need for improvements by sharing Sherwood resident Deborah Johnson’s agony of suicide in her family. Her 23-year-old son, Army Private Jeremy Andrew Johnson, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. During his transition out of the military, he exhibited suicidal thoughts and was put on suicide watch. Days later he was found dead of a presumed drug overdose. Johnson says she wishes Congress would have taken up legislation to improve mental health services years ago but is hopeful The Clay Hunt SAV Act will help prevent other families from suffering the pain that hers lives with.
“We owe it to Deborah and others like her who lost loved ones to the invisible injuries of war, as well as servicemembers and veterans coping with mental health issues, to make this one of the first bills the 114th Congress sends to President Obama to sign into law,” Boozman said in the speech.