WASHINGTON -- Democratic Rep. Tim Walz's measure requiring the Veteran's Administration to evaluate its suicide prevention program and more adequately build up psychiatry services passed the Senate Tuesday 99-0 and now heads to President Barack Obama's desk.
No member of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate voted against the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.
Walz, a 24-year veteran of the Army National Guard, met Clay Hunt when he came to "storm the hill" during a lobbying effort a few years ago. Hunt earned a Purple Heart after being shot in the wrist by a sniper bullet near Fallujah, Iraq in 2007. Despite his injury, he graduated from Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in 2008 and deployed again, this time to Afghanistan
When he returned home to Houston after his tour, he suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and was repeatedly put on wait lists by the VA for medical care. He was prescribed more medication than mental health treatment and told his family he felt like a "guinea pig for drugs."
Hunt committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28. The 2012 VA suicide data report found 22 veterans die each day by suicide.
A similar measure passed the House last Congress but wasn't taken up by the then Democratic-controlled Senate. Obama is expected to sign the legislation.
"We may never completely end this terrible epidemic ... but if we can save one parent from having to bury their child, one son from losing this mother, or one sister from losing her brother, it's worth trying with all our might," Walz said, in a statement Tuesday.