Sinema and the Somers are working to expand their Network of Support concept to the Department of Veterans Affairs
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema met with Howard and Jean Somers and discussed their efforts to prevent veteran suicide. Howard and Jean Somers are the parents of 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. Sinema and the Somers have worked for more than five years to ensure all veterans get the care and support they need.
In their meeting, Sinema provided an update about their Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act, which is included in this year’s defense bill. Sinema also discussed their efforts to introduce the Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act, which would expand the network of support concept to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Suicide among our servicemembers and veterans is a national crisis. Daniel’s parents and I are continuing our work ensuring all brave men and women who served have access to the resources and care they’ve earned,” said Sinema.
Sinema 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 and 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 and Red Cross will provide the network of support information about the benefits and services available to military members.
VA Secretary Wilkie expressed support for efforts to expand the Network of Support concept to the Department of Veterans Affairs at a June 19, 2019 Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing on suicide prevention. Sinema is working to ensure that expansion happens.
In the U.S. House, Sinema introduced and successfully passed the Sgt. Daniel Somers Access to Care Act, which ensures veterans who worked in classified jobs can receive behavioral health services in an appropriate care setting. Sinema spoke about her work with the Somers family during her maiden Senate floor speech in July.