Sinema discussed Arizona’s Be Connected veteran suicide prevention efforts and her Network of Support bill
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema attended a White House briefing and discussion on preventing veteran suicide with Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, the Director of the PREVENTS Presidential Task Force Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, and a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Sinema discussed Arizona’s Be Connected program, which is a community-based approach to preventing suicide, and the need for the Department of Veterans Affairs to adopt her Network of Support concept.
“Suicide among our veterans is a national crisis that requires a bipartisan focus. I will keep building support on both sides of the aisle and with partners in the Administration to identify and expand effective solutions to address veteran suicide,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
In September, the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense released updated suicide data reports highlighting the ongoing challenge of addressing the suicide crisis within the military and veteran populations. Arizona experienced a loss on September 23, when an 86-year-old veteran apparently died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery on Cave Creek.
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 in September. 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. Sinema shared Sgt. Daniel Somers’ story during her Maiden Speech and her work in the Senate to support Arizona veterans and servicemembers.
Sinema is now working to expand the Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act to the Department of Veterans Affairs.