Political Notes: April 2015
Veterans’ Bill Becomes Law – Quickly: Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, stood next to President Barack Obama as he signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act into law.
The bill, which aims to improve mental healthcare and suicide prevention resources for veterans, unanimously passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives – a rare occurrence – and was promptly signed by the president.
It is named for Clay Hunt, a decorated Marine veteran who committed suicide in 2011 after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder following two tours in the Middle East.
Isakson had made the bill his top priority as chairman of the VA committee. In a statement prior to the Senate vote, he said, “When you have 8,000 veterans a year committing suicide – which is more veterans than have died in all of Iraq and all of Afghanistan since we’ve been fighting – then you have a serious problem. This legislation is an important step toward providing better access to mental health resources for our veterans.”
After the bill was signed, he said, “I am committed to seeing to it that we change the paradigm at the Department of Veterans Affairs to deliver a variety of quality services in unique ways that will benefit veterans.”
Isakson held a committee field hearing at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in 2013, which helped uncover signs of poor management and mistreatment following the deaths of three mental health patients. The committee findings prompted a change in leadership at the hospital and contributed to the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Sustainability Stars: The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) recognized seven local communities for their green achievements: the cities of Alpharetta, Decatur and Sandy Springs and the counties of Cherokee, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett.
The recognition is part of the ARC’s Green Communities program.