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The Military Order of the Purple Heart

For Immediate Release

Springfield, VA - February 3, 2015

Military Order of the Purple Heart Salutes the Congress for Passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act

The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) is pleased to note final passage of the "Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act" in the U.S. Senate today, following passage last month by the House of Representatives.  As the Bill now proceeds to the White House, the MOPH urges immediate signature by President Obama.

An estimated 22 veterans commit suicide every day, according to a report released last year by VA.   According to DoD statistics, there were 320 suicides in 2012 and 255 in 2013 in the active ranks, with an additional 72 in 2012 and 86 in 2013 in reserve units.  The MOPH finds these statistics to be an unacceptable consequence of military service and the inability of the DoD and the VA to provide adequate mental health care to America's veterans.

Introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D.-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D.-W.V.), the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for America Veterans Act calls for independent evaluations of all mental health-care and suicide-prevention programs in VA and the Defense Department, a student loan repayment program that would offer up to $120,000 per year to recruit psychiatrists who commit to working for VA, and a program that would take back unneeded prescription drugs from patients at VA facilities.

The Suicide Prevention Act is named for Marine Cpl. Clay Hunt, a 28 year old veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and was a Purple Heart recipient from wounds received in Iraq in 2007.  When Hunt left the Marine Corps, he struggled with depression, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress but threw himself into veteran's advocacy and humanitarian work.  In 2011, out of work, fighting to save a crumbling marriage, and battling with the VA over an unbelievably low disability rating, Hunt locked himself in his Houston, TX apartment and committed suicide.

The organization now known as the "Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.," (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all combat wounded veterans and active duty men and women who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America's military history. Most importantly, through veteran service, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance.  Programs of the MOPH include VA Volunteer Service, First Responder Recognition, JROTC Leadership Award, Scholarships, Americanism, Purple Heart Trail and Cities, Welfare, and numerous community service programs, all with the objective of service to Veterans and their families.

For information contact:
National Public Relations Director, John Bircher, (352) 753-5535
National Legislative Director, Hershel Gober, (202) 550-2491
Email: PublicRelations@Purpleheart.org
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