Vet Suicide Prevention Bill Wins Approval

Legislation pushed by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to strengthen suicide prevention programs for veterans won Senate approval Tuesday and is expected to become the first veterans’ bill of 2015 to be signed by President Obama. The measure – dubbed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, for a Texas Marine who killed himself in 2011 – won House approval last month. Its passage was blocked last year by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who has since retired from the Senate. The bill will require the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs to submit to independent reviews of their suicide prevention programs. It also establishes a program to repay loans to psychiatrists who agree to work with veterans, improves VA collaboration with non-profit agencies, and calls for more online and community outreach mental health services for veterans. In the Senate, Blumenthal, ranking member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, worked with Republican John McCain, R-Ariz., to expedite the bill’s approval.

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New Generation Of Vets Has Higher Suicide Risk, Study Shows

Justin Eldridge’s family will never fully understand why nothing seemed to ease the anguish of the young Marine and father of five, as he wrestled with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury after a deployment to Afghanistan in 2004-05. Despite stints in VA hospitals and an array of medications, he killed himself in his Waterford home on Oct. 28, 2013. He was 31. “He did his part – he followed the treatment they gave him,” said his widow, Joanna Eldridge, who is now raising their children alone.

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