Sinema pushes for veteran suicide prevention in first Senate speech

Jul 23, 2019, 9:02 AM | Updated: 12:08 pm

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona pushed for legislation to protect veterans’ mental health in her first speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

The Democratic lawmaker told the story of Sgt. Daniel Somers, who died by suicide in 2013 after struggling to get the help he needed to deal with PTSD.

“The (Department of Veterans Affairs) enrolled Sgt. Somers in group therapy sessions, sessions he could not attend for fear of disclosing classified information,” Sinema said.

“Despite repeated requests for individualized counseling … the VA delayed providing him with suitable support and care.”

The senator has worked with the soldier’s parents to introduce the Daniel Somers Network of Support Act, which would require the Department of Defense to provide more resources to struggling veterans.

Sinema and Rep. Scott Peters of California, who introduced companion legislation in the House, are looking to get the act included in this year’s annual defense bill.

The Arizona lawmaker also praised the late Sen. John McCain in her speech, saying she hoped he’d be proud of the legislation.

“With Sen. McCain’s example lighting the way … I recommit to ignoring political games and focusing on upholding Arizona values,” she said.

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Sinema pushes for veteran suicide prevention in first Senate speech