Kingman Daily Miner
KINGMAN – Local veterans met with U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) to discuss their most pressing concerns and learn about how the Senator can help.
The roundtable discussion took place Saturday, Feb. 22 at Mohave Community College Neal Campus, 1971 Jagerson Ave.
Participants included local veteran services workers and activists, local health care officials, Kingman Mayor Jen Miles, and representatives of numerous veterans organizations.
Sinema arrived late due to the rain, but devoted her first few minutes to “get an opportunity to be a person,” as she said, and shake everybody’s hand. Veterans are a topic of importance to her, she stated, because her two brothers, grandfather and stepfather all served.
Sinema spoke about the legislative successes she’s already had in this area.
“Last year,” she said, “I worked close with Republican Sen. Thom Tillis” of North Carolina.
The result – bipartisan legislation extending American Legion membership to veterans who served in undeclared conflicts – is ready to be signed into law.
In 2019, Sinema co-sponsored another bill to improve Veterans’ Administration suicide prevention efforts. The bill itself bears the name of Sgt. Daniel Somers, an Arizona Army veteran, who lost his life to suicide in 2013.
“Now, the Department of Defense gathers information on the veterans’ loved ones to educate them about symptoms, signs of depression and tools to provide help,” she explained.
Sinema emphasized how bipartisan the commitment to veterans is, despite Washington. D.C., being a “crazy, broken place.” Then she asked what her office can do to help veterans in the Kingman area.
Mayor Miles asked for support of a bill to establish a veterans’ home facility in the county that was introduced at the State Senate by Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R-Lake Havasu City). Federal funding must also be approved.
Sinema promised her support and spoke about landlord incentives to provide housing to vets.
“Those lost dollars can be changed into a sense of pride,” she said. “Pride that we provide housing to veterans in our community because this is who we are.”
Miles said that, indeed, Mohave County has a “good culture” when it comes to supporting veterans. Still, more health and transportation resources are needed.
Sinema promised to follow up on a number of things, including JAVC’s effort to gain more housing opportunities through U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs grant and per diem programs. She also brought up a concept of a state-wide anonymous survey for veterans to find out what solutions are really working and what are not.
“I’m not here as a party member,” Sinema told the Miner after the roundtable. “I’m here to make sure our veterans are getting services they deserve.”