Clay Hunt summit connects vets to mental health resources

The Central Oregon Vet Center’s mobile unit is parked in the Ericksons Thriftway parking lot in Burns the fourth full week of the month on Thursdays. (Photo by SAMANTHA WHITE)

The Boise VA Medical Center and American Legion Post 63 hosted the Clay Hunt Behavioral Health Summit on Thursday, Oct. 18, in Burns.

Local veterans who attended the summit represented multiple branches of the military including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and served in wars such as World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.

Dr. Caroll Berndt, associate chief of staff for behavioral health at the Boise VA Medical Center,  welcomed attendees and explained that the purpose of the event is to honor Cpl. Clay Hunt and his efforts.

According to a pamphlet provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Hunt was a Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although his experiences left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, he found strength through veterans’ advocacy and humanitarian causes.

“He was devoting some of his time after his military service to serving veterans and trying to get people into the care to get the service and the treatment that they needed so that they could recover as much as possible,” Dr. Berndt explained.

Unfortunately, however, the pamphlet states that, “Despite the positive work [Hunt] was doing, he was suffering. [He] died by suicide on March 31, 2011.”

In Hunt’s honor, Congress passed a national law to fund veterans outreach,

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