In the News

Jeanette Steele - At Tuesday's State of the Union address, two San Diego County congressmen brought guests to draw attention to issues.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, invited the parents of a military veteran who committed suicide following service in Iraq.

Howard and Jean Somers of Coronado have been advocating for change to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs system since the June 2013 death of their son, Daniel.

Daniel Somers, a 30-year-old former Army sergeant, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury after his time in combat.

Congress is considering the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which would take steps to help veterans access VA mental health care and authorizes the VA to increase retention of mental health staff.

“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,” Peters said after the speech.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, came to the speech with Andrew Tahmooressi, a Marine veteran who became a cause célèbre after he was jailed in Tijuana on gun charges.

Tahmooressi, a 25-year-old former infantryman who fought in Afghanistan, said he took a wrong turn and never intended to cross the border. He suffers from PTSD, which is the reason Mexican officials cited in October for dropping the charges after the American spent seven months in jail there.

Tahmooressi returned to his native Florida and is getting care for his PTSD, according to a source close to the family.

Regarding the address, Hunter’s Chief of Staff Joe Kasper put out this statement: “I can tell you that tax increases are a nonstarter — and that’s probably why the president feels compelled to bring up the issue. Taxing job creation and sustainability offers no real solution.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, felt much the same way on Fox Business News: “It’s time for the president to come to the table with concessions such as the XL pipeline, including serious tax reform not tax increases and cuts in government, not just cuts to the military.”

After the speech, Rep. Susan Davis lauded the president for bringing “forward specific proposals to strengthen the economic security of working families.” But she stayed mum on specifics, including the president’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to provide middle-class tax breaks.

Added Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego: “The speech presented ideas to further strengthen our middle class, to ensure our country’s future, and to guarantee our nation remains competitive in the 21st century.”can cut here. pls keep shirttail

Meanwhile, Obama’s proposal to give workers up to seven paid sick days a year won applause from in Sacramento from Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego. Gonzalez, who authored the new state law requiring up to three days of paid sick days, said, “Paid sick leave is a commonsense, pro-family policy whose time should’ve come long ago.”

Obama said proposed creating a $2 billion incentive program to help cover costs.