House Approves Two of Rep. Peters’ Bipartisan Bills to Support Veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, two of Rep. Scott Peters’ (CA-52) bills to house homeless veterans and boost veterans’ mental health passed the House of Representatives in a series of votes dedicated to helping our country’s veterans.
The first of Rep. Peters’ bills that passed today was the bipartisan, bicameral Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act, included in the Veterans Comprehensive Prevention, Access to Care, and Treatment Act. This bill mirrors another bill authored by Rep. Peters that became law last year, which instructs the Department of Defense to send regular updates to designated family and friends about the rigors, challenges and needs associated with military service. This legislation builds on that progress, taking another step forward to improve veteran support networks.
“Family and friends play a critical role in helping servicemembers transition back to civilian life, which is why educating them about how to navigate resources and best support new veterans is so important,” said Rep. Peters. “This bill would ensure that our nation’s heroes have a well-informed team of loved-ones ready to back them up, which can prevent the isolation that makes the transition harder and has even led to suicide in some cases,” he said.
The bill’s namesake is Army Veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers, who died by suicide in 2013 after two tours in Iraq. Sgt. Somers suffered traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress, and struggled to receive mental health services at the Phoenix VA after returning home. His parents, Howard and Jean Somers, actively advocate for servicemembers, veterans and their families and reside in Coronado, CA.
Rep. Peters’ second bill, the Veteran HOUSE Act, passed as part of the DELIVER Act. It would tackle veteran homelessness by expanding the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program to ensure chronically homeless veterans discharged under conditions other-than-honorable (OTH), but not dishonorable, are eligible for HUD-VASH housing vouchers and supportive case management services. The Veteran HOUSE Act has been passed by the House two other times this year, in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 and as a stand-alone bill in January, and now rests in the Senate’s hands. Veterans make up 12 percent of San Diego’s homeless population.
Other bills included in today’s legislative push would prohibit the VA from collecting any overpayment of benefits that resulted from a delay in processing by the VA, expand the use of VA’s telemedicine services, and measures to bolster mental health resources and housing benefits for veterans.