Legislation identifies ways to improve VA’s efforts to prevent suicide among Arizona veterans and servicemembers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate approved the bipartisan Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act. The bill, cosponsored by Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
The legislation improves the Department of Veterans Affairs’ suicide prevention efforts by requiring the Government Accountability Office to report how the VA equips its suicide prevention coordinators with resources to ensure Arizona veterans have improved access to mental health care and other services.
“Suicide among our veterans and servicemembers is a national crisis. The Senate’s action today is a critical step to ensuring suicide prevention coordinators have every tool available to identify and support veterans at risk for suicide and deliver the care they have earned,” said Sinema, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee who has long championed suicide-prevention policies.
Sinema recently introduced the Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act, which requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to create networks of support for servicemembers transitioning to civilian life.
Sinema also recently secured her bipartisan Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act in the Senate-passed version of the defense bill, and the U.S. House included the legislation in its version of the bill earlier this month. The legislation was inspired by Sgt. Daniel Somers, an Arizona Army veteran who 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. The bill requires that the Department of Defense work with the Red Cross to collect from new servicemembers the names of loved ones they consider to be their network of support. In return, the Department of Defense will provide the network of support information about the benefits and services available to military members.
Sinema has long been a champion for Arizona veterans and servicemembers. Earlier this year, Sinema’s LEGION Act, which extends American Legion membership to honorably discharged veterans since World War II, and her Protecting Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act, which safeguards veterans from predatory loan practices and helps them more easily access their earned homeowner benefits, became law.