Rep. Peters’ Bill to Create VA Support Network Becomes Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Saturday night, Rep. Scott Peters’ (CA-52) Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act was signed into law by the president. The Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to create a network of support that shares information with designated family members and friends of veterans to guide and empower them as they help their loved ones navigate life after service. The information would detail the benefits and assistance the VA and other state and local government agencies offer to veterans, including mental health resources that could reduce the risk of suicide and potentially save lives.
“When a veteran is struggling, the support of loved ones is paramount. The Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act will ensure our nation’s heroes have a well-informed team of people ready to back them up when they return from service. Communication prevents feelings of isolation that can make the transition more difficult and has even led to suicide in some cases,” said Rep. Peters. “The passage of this bill would have never been possible without the tireless advocacy of my constituents, Howard and Jean Somers, and this victory is thanks to them and part of their son, Daniel‘s, legacy.”
Army Veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers died by suicide in 2013 after two tours in Iraq. He suffered traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress following his service. Sgt. Somers’ parents are Rep. Peters’ constituents who have been relentless in their efforts to increase access to VA services and information and improve veterans’ transition from the Department of Defense (DoD) to the VA.
“We cannot thank Rep. Peters and his staff enough for sponsoring the Sgt. Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support bill,” said Howard and Jean Somers. “The fact that VA will now have to share information with our Veterans’ family members and loved ones regarding its programs and benefits will be of incalculable assistance. If this policy had been available to us and our son, whereby we ourselves would have been aware of what VA has to offer, we feel that his tragic outcome might very well have been averted.”
This legislative win builds on another bill Rep. Peters’ introduced last year that became law. The Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act directs the DoD to send updates to friends and family of servicemembers to give a better understanding of the rigors, challenges, and needs associated with military service and was made law under the annual defense authorization bill. With both bills enacted, all servicemembers and veterans are now supported under the Network of Support model.
The Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act was signed into law as part of the bipartisan COMPACT Act - a comprehensive package of bills dedicated to reducing veteran suicide and boosting their mental health.