Press Releases

Reps. Peters, Sinema to Host at State of the Union San Diego Veterans’ Advocates who Lost Son to Suicide

SAN DIEGO, CA – Today, on the heels of his vote for the “Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act ,” U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) announced that he is joining with Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) to bring Howard and Jean Somers to next week’s State of the Union address to raise awareness on the tragic problem of veteran suicide.

“The Somers have been fiercely committed to making reforms at the VA that will save lives, even after that system failed them and their son. I am honored to join with my friend Congresswoman Sinema to bring the Somers to the State of the Union,” Rep. Peters said. “As we work to end the scourge of veteran suicide we will need aggressive partners like the Somers to help push reform forward. I will continue calling on President Obama, and leaders at the Pentagon, to be hyper-focused on reversing the crisis of veteran suicide at this time where we’re losing more warfighters to suicide than battle.”

The Somers reside in Coronado and their son, Daniel, lived in Phoenix.

Sgt. Daniel Somers suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and tragically committed suicide in June 2013. Since then, the Somers have been tireless advocates for the need to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system, preparing a twenty-five page report with recommendations based on their experience and research. They were invited to testify before, and present their report to, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in July, 2014. Subsequently, Congress passed the H.R. 3230, the bipartisan “Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act,” which the President signed into law on August 7, 2014.

H.R. 203, the “Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act,” establishes a pilot program to help veterans access mental health services in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), requires the VA to set up a single website portal for mental health services, and authorizes the VA to take actions to increase retention of mental health staff.