Sinema Urges U.S. House to Approve Bipartisan Bill Improving Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention Programs

Sep 10, 2020

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Sinema-backed bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act in August

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and a bipartisan group of Senators urged the U.S. House to pass the bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Health Care Improvement Act—legislation Sinema cosponsored that was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in August.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to mental health care. The U.S. House must pass this lifesaving, bipartisan legislation to improve mental health care and support suicide prevention efforts to ensure Arizona veterans have access to the care they’ve earned,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affaris Committee.
The bipartisan Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Health Care Improvement Act expands access to high quality mental health care and supports research and programs to helps reduce suicide rates among Arizona veterans. In the bipartisan letter, Sinema and her colleagues highlighted the urgency of approving this lifesaving, bipartisan legislation.
Approximately, 14 out of 20 veterans who die from suicide each day have little to no contact with the VA system. Sinema’s legislation invests in veteran-serving community organizations across the nation to reach vulnerable veterans not connected to VA care to receive suicide prevention services. Additionally, Sinema’s bill increases accountability over the VA’s mental health and suicide prevention programs, and expands VA telehealth capabilities to better serve rural Arizona veterans.
Click HERE to read Sinema’s letter.
Sinema has long been a champion for improving mental health care and suicide prevention efforts for Arizona veterans and servicemembers. In July, the Senate unanimously passed Sinema’s Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act—bipartisan legislation requiring the VA to pilot a program creating networks of support for servicemembers transitioning to civilian life. This bill is named after Arizona Army veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers. 
Sgt. Somers served two tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 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 entering the military.