Veterans Groups Have Harsh Words for Republican Senator

December 19, 2014

Veterans Groups Have Harsh Words for Republican Senator

Veterans groups fired back at Republican Senator Tom Coburn after he blocked the Clay Hunt veteran suicide bill. As reported on the military news blog BuiltUSA, the outgoing Senator from Oklahoma felt like the bill was duplicating too many existing VA programs and wouldn't accomplish its goal of preventing veteran suicides.

Veterans groups disagreed with Coburn's defense. Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, put it bluntly when he said, ""This is why people hate Washington."

Veteran advocates felt that the Clay Hunt bill would save thousands of lives. They pointed out that some estimates show that 22 military veterans commit suicide each day.

Despite the support of the other 99 U.S. senators, The Republican Senator from Oklahoma felt differently about this bill. "I don't think this bill would do the first thing to change what's happening" in terms of veterans' suicides, Coburn said.

Story Behind the Veterans Suicide Bill

As initially reported in this BuiltUSA blog post, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was named after an Iraq war veteran. "Hunt, a 28-year-old Marine veteran of the Iraq War who killed himself in March 2011, was heavily involved in suicide prevention programs and his suicide came as a shock to those who knew him."

Veterans groups noted that this bill would require the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department to submit to independent reviews of their suicide prevention programs. And from the ongoing debacles with our VA, unfortunately, these independent reviews seem very necessary.

The Clay Hunt bill would also offer financial incentives to psychiatrists who agree to work for the VA and create a pilot program to assist veterans transitioning from active duty to veteran status.

What's Next with Blocked Veterans Suicide Bill

Many of those in Congress have vowed to bring this bill back for a vote in the next session - a session which will not include the outgoing Senator Coburn. You can make sure they stick to their guns by contacting your representatives and reminding them how important this bill is to our military veterans and their loved ones.

You can also step up to the plate like these veterans in Tennessee and help shine a light on the plight of our veterans and the growing problem of veteran suicide.

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