In regard to the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans ACT, the legislation states:
Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act or the Clay Hunt SAV Act - (Sec. 2) Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to: (1) arrange for an independent third party evaluation, at least annually, of the VA's mental health care and suicide prevention programs; and (2) submit a report to Congress, by December 1 of each year, containing the most recent evaluations not yet submitted to Congress and any recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate.(Sec. 3) Directs the Secretary to survey the VA's existing Internet websites and information resources to publish an Internet website that serves as a centralized source to provide veterans with information, updated at least once every 90 days, regarding all of the VA's mental health care services.(Sec. 4) Requires the Secretary to carry out a three-year pilot program to repay the education loans relating to psychiatric medicine that are incurred by individuals who:
are eligible to practice psychiatric medicine in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) or are enrolled in the final year of a residency program leading to a specialty qualification in psychiatric medicine;
demonstrate a commitment to a long-term career as a psychiatrist in the VHA; and
agree to a period of two or more years of obligated service with the VHA in the field of psychiatric medicine, as determined by the Secretary.Limits the loan repayment to no more than $30,000 for each year an individual performs such obligated service.
Put pride aside & fix #ClayHuntSAV bill BEFORE it becomes law @PaulRieckhoff ... #Vets need therapy, NOT PSYCHIATRY (pills) to end #suicide!Mr. Rieckhoff responded with this defensive and poorly conceived notion:
— CombatCounselor (@CombatCounselor) January 29, 2015
@CombatCounselor Sorry you feel that way. Every vet group in America, @APAPsychiatric and most others disagree w you and support #ClayHunt.
— Paul (PJ) Rieckhoff (@PaulRieckhoff) January 29, 2015
Of course the APA disagrees with me because they have a very big dog in that hunt ... it is called money, a lot of it! In regard to "every veteran group in America", they would of course be remiss not to support such legislation to reduce Veteran suicides. The problem being that, like Mr. Rieckhoff and IAVA, those groups also do not completely understand the issue. Mr. Rieckhoff obviously also does not understand that Licensed Psychologists and LPCs are key to effective therapy and the long-term resolution of psychological problems, not just the symptoms, helping America's Veterans to heal, not just cope with their symptoms (e.g. taking antidepressant medications).
According to Roethel (2012), the National Center for Health Statistics reports that:
1. Americans are taking more antidepressant medications than ever before. When researchers compared the data from 1988 to 1994 with data from 2005 to 2008, they found that the rate of antidepressant use increased by almost 400 percent.
2. Antidepressants rank among the top prescription drugs among U.S. adults up to age 44, they are the most common prescription medication for Americans between the ages of 18 and 44, and the third most commonly prescribed drug across all age groups.
3. 60 percent of Americans taking antidepressant medications have used them for two years or more and 14 percent have taken them for more than 10 years.
4. 11 percent of Americans over age 12 take antidepressants.
Big Pharma has long been tied (financially) to the APA in general and psychiatrists in particular:
In March 2009, the American Psychiatric Association announced that it would phase out pharmaceutical funding of continuing medical education seminars and meals at its conventions. However, the decision came only after years of controversial exposure of its conflict of interest with the pharmaceutical industry and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee requesting in July 2008 that the APA provide accounts for all of its pharmaceutical funding. Despite its announcement, within two months, the APA accepted more than $1.7 million in pharmaceutical company funds for its annual conference, held in San Francisco.New Yorker Magazine reported (Greenberg, 2013) that “It’s been just over twenty-five years since Prozac came to market, and more than twenty per cent of Americans now regularly take mind-altering drugs prescribed by their doctors. Almost as familiar as brands like Zoloft and Lexapro is the worry about what it means that the daily routine in many households, for parents and children alike, includes a dose of medications that are poorly understood and whose long-term effects on the body are unknown. Despite our ambivalence, sales of psychiatric drugs amounted to more than seventy billion dollars in 2010. They have become yet another commodity that consumers have learned to live with or even enjoy, like S.U.V.s or Cheetos.”
With the U.S. prescribing antipsychotics to children and adolescents at a rate six times greater than the U.K., and with 30 million Americans having taken antidepressants for a “chemical imbalance” that psychiatrists admit is a pharmaceutical marketing campaign, not scientific fact, it is no wonder that the conflict of interest between psychiatry and Big Pharma is under congressional investigation. (CCHR International, No Date)
Unfortunately, Mr. Reickhoff apparently does not like to listen to Veterans or experts in the field before proposing legislation that affects millions of Veterans and reduces the number of suicides as the Clay Hunt SAV Act has now passed both Houses of Congress with no changes. What a shame! Maybe if Paul Rieckhoff cared about Veterans as much as his massive ego, he would have consulted with real experts instead of only the large special interest groups before drafting such a critical piece of legislation affecting our brothers and sisters-in-arms.
Do not get me wrong, the Clay Hunt SAV Act is a start and I am extremely pleased that our government has finally recognized that there is a problem as well as a need for a solution. I am only saddened by the fact that such a poorly conceived notion, that more psychiatrists are the answer to the Veteran suicide problem, was put before Congress and ultimately the President for signature in this landmark legislation.
You can read more about my views on mental health treatment, and the associated stigmas, among military and Veterans as well as the implications in regard to PTSD and suicide in my article: The Stigma Killing American Heroes on my blog and as published in De Oppresso Liber magazine.
Here are a few more articles from my blog that are related to the information detailed above if you want to do some more reading:
Cohen, Elizabeth: CDC: Antidepressants Most Prescribed Drugs in U.S., July 9, 2007, CNN:
Roethel, Kathryn: Antidepressants - Nation's Top Prescription, Published 4:49 pm, Tuesday, November 13, 2012, SFGate:
Title: Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for Veterans Act ... Great Idea, Poor Execution
Key Words: Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, SAV, ACT, Afghanistan, America, anxiety, Clay, Clay Hunt, depression, Hunt, IAVA, Iraq, legislation, Paul Rieckhoff, prevention, suicide, veterans, PTSD