WASHINGTON, DC — The Senate has passed a bipartisan bill that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to create networks of support for service members transitioning to civilian life.
The bill was introduced jointly by Republican North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis and Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
The Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act will allow active duty service members leaving the service to designate up to 10 loved ones to receive information from the VA on benefits and services available to them and their families from the VA and community partners.
By directly engaging families and loved ones, the Senators say the VA can prepare and equip veterans’ friends and families to better understand the transition from service to civilian life, notice when veterans struggle and ensure they have access to the necessary tools to help veterans get assistance or care.
“The brave men and women who served our country were faced with challenging situations that many are still coping with and we must make sure they have the resources they need to get the appropriate care,” said Senator Tillis. “One aspect of achieving that goal is ensuring they have a support system of family and loved ones to help them in times of need, and this bipartisan legislation will require the VA to create that network of support so families are engaged and aware of the resources available to veterans.”
Senator Sinema says it also addresses the bureaucracy that can sometimes hamper those leaving the service.
“Troops leaving military service face confusing and complicated red tape when navigating their veteran’s benefits. Educating and empowering our veterans’ loved ones about the resources available will ensure veterans never feel alone and get the support and benefits they’ve earned,” she said.
The Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act is cosponsored by Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House.