Sinema’s bipartisan bill named for Arizona veteran, builds on previous Network of Support Act that is now law for servicemembers
WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act with bipartisan support, moving it one step closer to becoming law. Sinema’s legislation, cosponsored by Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn (TN), Thom Tillis (NC), Steve Daines (MT), and Kelly Loeffler (GA) and Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to create networks of support for servicemembers transitioning to civilian life. The bill is named after Arizona Army veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers.
The Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act allows active duty servicemembers leaving the service to designate up to 10 loved ones to receive information from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on benefits and services available to veterans and their loved ones from the VA and community partners. By directly engaging families and loved ones, the VA can prepare and equip veterans’ friends and families to better understand the transition from service to civilian life, notice when veterans struggle, and ensure they have access to the necessary tools to help veterans get assistance or care.
“Empowering veterans’ loved ones with resources will help ensure veterans never feel alone during their transition to civilian life. Today’s bipartisan approval of our bill moves us one step closer to making sure all Arizona veterans receive the care and benefits they’ve earned,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
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. Now, Sinema is working with the Somers to expand their network of support concept.