Following Afghanistan Withdrawal, Sinema Urges VA Support Amid Growing Demand for Veterans’ Mental Health Care

Sep 10, 2021

WASHINGTON – Arizona’s senior U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema questioned the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on its efforts anticipating and supporting the growing demand for Arizona veterans’ mental health care needs following the Afghanistan withdrawal.
“It is critical that the VA proactively reach out and support veterans in need and their families – both now and in the weeks and months ahead,” wrote Sinema.
In her letter, Sinema inquired about specific plans the VA has developed to connect veterans to VA resources and services both in the short term and long term. Sinema asked what steps the VA is taking to ensure community providers and partners are prepared to address the needs of veterans seeking support.
Sinema stressed that, despite their outreach efforts to the veterans community, more must be done to disseminate information about resources and ensure that each VA facility, including Community Based Outpatient Centers and Vet Centers, and the Veterans Crisis Line are prepared to support veterans.
In August, Sinema’s PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act was signed into law. The bipartisan law requires the VA to establish a 5-year pilot program where eligible veterans learn to train a service dog, and the veteran would then have the opportunity to adopt the service dog as their own. Sinema had been championing this bipartisan legislation since first serving in the U.S. House.
In June, Sinema introduced bipartisan legislation that increases mental health awareness for veterans by establishing a “Buddy Check Week,” helping the VA collaborate with partners to train and organize outreach for veterans to learn how to conduct wellness checks on other veterans and educate veterans on support services.
Mental health among Arizona veterans continues to be a top priority for Sinema. Last year, Sinema’s Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act was signed into law. This Sinema-crafted law requires the VA to pilot a program creating networks of support for servicemembers transitioning to civilian life. The legislation was named after Arizona veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers and was passed through Congress as part of the Veterans Compact Law.
Click HERE for Sinema’s letter.