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Kyrsten Sinema’s veterans mental health support bill signed into law

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema with Sgt. Daniel Somer's parents, Jean and Howard Somers in 2019. (Twitter Photo/@SenatorSinema)

PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s bill aimed at expanding access to mental health services to veterans returning to civilian life was signed into law on Monday.

The bipartisan bill, the Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act, requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to pilot a program that creates networks of support for service members transitioning to civilian life.

It allows active duty service members to designate up to 10 family and friends to receive information from the VA on benefits and services.

“This means that as these veterans disconnect from service and return to civilian life, they have a network of support helping them adjust to what could be a very difficult transition,” Sinema told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week.

According to a press release, the hope is that by directly engaging veterans’ loved ones they can help equip families to better understand the transition from service to civilian life, notice when veterans are struggling and ensure they have the necessary tools to help veterans get assistance.

The act is named after Sgt. Daniel Somers, an Arizona Army veteran who lost his life to suicide in 2013 after he had served two tours in Iraq. Somers was diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD when he returned home.

The latest piece of legislation builds on a previous Network of Support Act that Sinema introduced and passed in last year’s annual defense authorization bill. That bill requires the Department of Defense to create networks of support for service members entering the military.

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