By Joe Klein
February 12, 2015

President Barack Obama is about to sign the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act today. I never met Clay, but I’ve spent part of the past three years living with his memory, talking to his parents and friends, for a book about the Post-9/11 generation that will be published in October.

Clay was integral to some of the best veterans organizations out there. He was one of the first members of Team Rubicon, the disaster relief organization co-founded by his best friend, Jake Wood. His work for Team Rubicon was subsidized by a six-month fellowship from The Mission Continues, a brilliant organization that encourages veterans to heal themselves through public service. He was also a spokesman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

It was IAVA and, especially, its great leader Paul Reickhoff, who led the charge to get this necessary bill funded. It is cause for celebration, I suppose. I wish Clay were here to celebrate…but he does leave a legacy beyond this bill, a spiritual legacy that includes a mission for all of us. He left it in writing. His mom, Susan Selke, passed it along to me–and I’m sure if Clay were here today, this is what he would say:

If I had one thing to say to my fellow veterans, it would be this: Continue to serve, even though we have taken off our uniforms. No matter how great or small your service is, it is desired and needed by the world we live in today. Volunteer to mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn for them. Spend a day at a soup kitchen helping feed the homeless, many of whom are veterans themselves. Work on a trail maintenance project. Start a service organization. It doesn’t matter what it is, it only matters that you are continuing to put others before yourself, just like you did when you were in the military. Actions like that are the only sure ways to bring about the positive social change that our country and our world need so badly these days.

–Clay Hunt

 

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