Sen. Tom Coburn Blocks Veterans' Suicide Prevention Bill

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) is under attack for blocking a Veterans' suicide prevention bill.

In July, The Clay Hunt SAV Act was sponsored by Congressman Timothy Waltz in honor of serviceman Clay Hunt who committed suicide following tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill was an attempt to try and stop the 22 military veteran suicides that occur every day.

The Clay Hunt SAV Act would require independent reviews of the Veterans Affairs Department’s suicide prevention programs, motivate civilian psychiatrists to work with veterans, and create a program to assist returning service members adjust to life after war. There would also be a website set up to provide information to Veterans on available mental health services.

The cost of the bill would have been $22 million, just over 0.0001 percent of the total U.S. budget, reports VICE.

The bill passed in the House of Representatives with a unanimous vote.

Sen. Coburn, who goes by the nickname “Dr. No” due to his voting record, allegedly stopped the bill from getting a vote in the Senate.

"It's a shame that after two decades of service in Washington, Sen. Coburn will always be remembered for this final, misguided attack on veterans nationwide," Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said in a statement. “While we recognize Senator Coburn's reputation as a budget hawk, clearly the minor cost of this bill would have a tremendous payoff to help save lives in our community."

Sen. Coburn’s issue with the bill is that he found it to be redundant, given current programs that already exist, and believes it would not accomplish its goal.

"I don't think this bill would do the first thing to change what's happening,” Coburn said in reference to Veterans’ suicides.

"I'm going to be rejecting this bill because it just throws money and doesn't solve the real problem," Coburn said in a Senate floor speech Monday. "Events, catastrophic events, depression and situations lead people to suicide, not any one individual. They are searching for an answer we have failed to give."

Sen. Coburn believes lawmakers should hold the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable for their frequent failure to serve veterans.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) does not agree with Sen. Coburn and plans to reintroduce the bill in the new Congress if it fails this week, reports Huffington Post.

Sen. Coburn will be retiring due to health problems at the end of his current term. He will not be a part of the new Congress that begins in January 2015.

Sources: VICE, Huffington Post, iava.org / Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Conservative.me