Senate Passes Defense Bill Including Sinema’s Network of Support Act & Other Arizona Priorities

Jun 27, 2019

Annual defense bill includes a number of priorities Sinema secured for Arizona servicemembers and installations
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today approved Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act along with a number of Arizona-specific priorities she secured in the annual defense bill. The legislation now moves to the U.S. House.
Sinema’s bipartisan Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act 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. 
Also passed as part of the defense bill are multiple provisions Sinema secured that will benefit Arizona’s military installations, including funding for military construction projects at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and increased funding for Luke Air Force Base’s F-35 mission. Sinema also secured language that will help Arizona’s defense community continue to grow and create good paying jobs.
“Senate approval of this defense bill is an important step toward providing servicemembers the resources they need and maintaining Arizona’s critical role in our national defense. I urge my colleagues in the House to swiftly pass this legislation,” said Sinema.  
Sinema secured the following defense priorities that will help Arizona’s military community and servicemembers across our country in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act:
Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act:
Legislation named after Arizona Army veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers 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.
Over the past five years, Sinema has worked with Daniel’s parents, Howard and Jean Somers, to advance legislation to help servicemembers receive the care they’ve earned. Together, they introduced the Network of Support Act.
The bill requires the Defense Department and the Red Cross to collect from new servicemembers the names of loved ones they consider to be their networks of support. In return, the Department of Defense and Red Cross will provide information about benefits and services available to military members.
By directly engaging families and loved ones, the Department can prepare and equip military friends and families to better understand military life, notice when a servicemember struggles, and ensure they have access to the necessary tools to help a servicemember get assistance or care.
Encouraging Growth at Camp Navajo:
Sinema secured language encouraging the Army to expand public-private partnerships that will offer additional revenue to Camp Navajo, the Arizona National Guard, and the surrounding community.
Funding for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma:
Sinema secured funding for the renovation of MCAS Yuma’s Hangar 95.
Sinema also secured funding for the critical replacement of junior servicemembers’ barracks.
Funding for Luke Air Force Base’s F-35 Program
Sinema helped secure $5.364 billion for 60 F-35 aircraft, an increase of over $1.090 billion above the President’s request.
Funding for Davis Monthan Air Force Base’s A-10 Program
Sinema helped secure $132 million for the A-10 based at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.
Inclusion of Senator Sinema’s Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act
Bipartisan legislative reforms endorsed by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence Violence to improve the military’s ability to prevent and respond to sexual assault. 
The legislation directs the Defense Department to create a civilian advisory committee on sexual assault prevention. The committee would be comprised of up to 20 civilian members with expertise in campus sexual assault prevention, suicide prevention, public health, and culture change of large organizations, among other areas. The committee would advise the Secretary of Defense on ways to implement new programs or improve existing programs dedicated to preventing sexual assault.
Additionally, the legislation allows the military to pay for exceptionally qualified enlisted members to attend law school and join the JAG Corps, and encourages military commanders to take prompt administrative action in cases where non-judicial accountability is necessary.
Inclusion of Sinema-backed Military Special Victims Protection Act
Legislation cosponsored by Sinema that codifies many of the military’s best practices for referring military sexual assault to courts martial, expands eligibility for Special Victim Counsel services to victims of certain domestic violence offences, and provides for the correction of military records and discharges for former military members who were survivors of military sexual trauma or intimate partner violence.