BREAKING: Senate Passes Sinema Bill Strengthening VA Mental Health Services

Aug 6, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bipartisan Improving Mental Health Care for Veterans Act—legislation introduced with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy (La.) requiring the VA to develop effective guidelines for treating serious mental illnesses.
“Arizona veterans have earned and deserve the best possible care for their wounds—both physical and mental. Our bipartisan bill helps ensure the VA has proper resources and plans in place to care for veterans with serious mental illnesses,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
Sinema’s bipartisan Improving Mental Health Care for Veterans Act strengthens the VA’s mental health care services by requiring the VA to consult with other entities, form a working group, and develop clinical practice guidelines for treatment of serious mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia, persistent mood disorder, major depressive disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and any other relevant serious disorder. Sinema’s bill was passed as part of the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, which Sinema cosponsored.
Sinema has long been a champion for improving mental health care and suicide prevention efforts for Arizona veterans and servicemembers. Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act—bipartisan legislation requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to pilot a program creating networks of support for servicemembers transitioning to civilian life. The bill is named after Arizona Army veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers. Sgt. Somers served two tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD upon returning home. He lost his life to suicide in 2013. After Sinema learned of Sgt. Somers’ story, she worked with his parents, Howard and Jean Somers, to introduce and successfully pass the Daniel Somers Access to Care Act, which ensures veterans who worked in classified jobs can receive behavioral health services in an appropriate care setting. Last year, Sinema introduced and passed the Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act in the annual defense authorization bill. That bill, which is now law, requires the Department of Defense to create networks of support for servicemembers entering the military.