Congressman Donald Norcross

Representing the 1st District of New Jersey
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Rep. Norcross Applauds Signing of Vets Suicide Prevention Bill

Feb 12, 2015
News Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama will sign into law H.R. 203, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act. Supported by Congressman Donald Norcross, this bipartisan legislation bears the name of a veteran who took his own life in 2011 and seeks to end our nation’s growing veteran suicide epidemic that claims an estimated 22 lives every day. 
“Countless veterans are suffering from the mental health effects of combat – and just as they answered the call to serve and protect our freedom, we need to act now to provide them with the services they need to overcome these challenges,” said Congressman Norcross upon passage of the bill. “By delivering better access to mental health services, we can help streamline the care veterans need and deserve before tragedy strikes.”  
The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act responds to the growing veteran suicide epidemic among Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans that has been linked to traumatic brain injury, PTSD, and depression following combat. The law establishes a peer support and community outreach pilot program that will assist transitioning servicemembers with accessing VA mental health care services.  To ease access to services, the law requires the VA to create a one-stop, interactive website to serve as a centralized source of information regarding all mental health services for veterans.  
The law also establishes a pilot program aimed to assist psychiatry students with their student loan debt as an effort to help address the shortage of mental health care professionals and retain the quality psychiatrists currently serving veterans. To improve care, the law will require an annual, third-party evaluation of all mental health care and suicide prevention practices and programs at the VA to find out what’s working and what’s not.  
The bill was introduced by Representative Tim Walz (D-MN), the highest ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress and co-authored by Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Committee Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a Purple Heart recipient, Iraq War veteran, and member of the Army National Guard. 

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Norcross remains committed to ensuring that our veterans and the men and women in our armed forces receive the support they have earned and deserve by protecting our freedoms.