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Bill to address vets’ suicide moves forward

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill aimed at reducing a suicide epidemic among military veterans is on its way to the president for his signature.

The Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday named for Clay Hunt, a 26-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who killed himself in 2011. The bill comes in response to suicides that on average claim the lives of 22 military veterans every day.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Barack Obama strongly supports the bill and will sign it.

The House passed the bill unanimously last month.

The measure would require the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department to submit to independent reviews of their suicide prevention programs and offers financial incentives to psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who agree to work for the VA. It also would help military members as they transition from active duty to veteran status.