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Obama signs suicide prevention act for veterans

By
Danielle Haynes
President Barack Obama signs the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act at the White House in Washington, D.C. on February 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
President Barack Obama signs the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act at the White House in Washington, D.C. on February 12, 2015. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama signed into law Thursday a bill to help lower the number of veteran suicides in the United States.

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act gives veterans better access to mental healthcare, creates a website for veterans to obtain information about mental health services and forms a community outreach program to help veterans make the transition from life in the service to their homes.

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The law is named after Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who was shot in the wrist and had post-traumatic stress disorder after he was discharged in 2009. He advocated for better mental health treatment for veterans before killing himself in 2011.

In a speech Obama delivered prior to signing the act, he thanked Hunt for his "extraordinary service" and praised him for the "great deal of good" he did in the world.

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"Every single veteran in America has something extraordinary to give to this country -- every single one," Obama said.    "And at the same time, too many of our troops and veterans are still struggling. They're recovering from injuries. They're mourning fallen comrades. They're trying to reconnect with family and friends who can never fully understand what they went through in war theater. For many of them, the war goes on -- in the flashbacks that come rushing forward, in the nightmares that don't go away.

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"So we're ready to help you begin the next chapter of your lives," he added. "And if you are hurting, know this: You are not forgotten. You are not alone. You are never alone. We are here for you. America is here for you -- all of us. And we will not stop doing everything in our power to get you the care and support you need to stay strong and keep serving this country we love. We need you. We need you. You make our country better."

A report by the VA in 2013 estimated 22 U.S. veterans die each day of suicide.

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