Clay Hunt Bill advocate has ties to Huntsville.
The young veteran honored by the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act was the grandson of a former Huntsville City Councilman whose daughter was instrumental in the passage of the bill.
Clay Hunt, a Marine Corps veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — where he was seriously wounded — was the grandson of former Huntsville City Councilman Bill Knotts and his wife, Muriel. Mr. Hunt’s mother, Susan Selke, the Knotts’ daughter, grew up in Huntsville and graduated from Huntsville High School.
Mrs. Selke and her husband, Richard Selke, were active in helping to get the Clay Hunt bill through the cumbersome political process in Washington.
Mr. Knotts praised the efforts of his daughter to honor her son by helping other veterans who also are vulnerable to the same wartime stresses Mr. Hunt was.
“I was just a passenger on this train. All of the credit goes to Susan and the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America). They worked tirelessly to get the bill through Congress. The IAVA was the main sponsor and Susan was their spokesman,” Mr. Knotts said. “Susan grew up with us in Huntsville and graduated from Huntsville High School. The ranch that President Obama referred to in his speech where Clay liked to hunt and fish is this one here at Iola. We spread his ashes here on his favorite lake and we have a monument in his honor at that location.”
The House of Representatives bill unanimously passed both the House and Senate. President Obama signed the bill into law on Feb 12 in a bipartisan signing ceremony at the White House. The bill, named The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, contains a number of measures designed to improve access to the appropriate care for returning veterans who may have post-traumatic stress problems related to their service.
“The new suicide prevention law is named in honor of Clay Hunt, an extraordinary young Texan and decorated Marine who served with distinction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like too many of our veterans, Clay struggled with depression and post-traumatic stress after he came home. Sadly, Clay’s life ended much too soon when he tragically committed suicide in 2011 at the age of only 28,” wrote a White House blogger after President Obama signed the bill into law.
The White House blog and a video of the ceremony can be viewed here.