Sinema's Sergeant Daniel Somers Classified Veterans Access to Care Act Passes House

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2915, which includes legislation introduced by Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema to ensure veterans with classified experiences have appropriate access to mental health services.

Sinema introduced the Sergeant Daniel Somers Classified Veterans Access to Care Act in honor of Arizona Army Veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers.  Sgt. Somers served two tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with both a traumatic brain injury and PTSD upon returning home. He sought treatment from the Phoenix VA but was tragically unable to get the care he needed. He lost his life to suicide in June 2013.

“No one who returns home from serving our country should ever feel like he or she has nowhere to turn,” said Sinema.  “Our bill is a reasonable solution that ensures all veterans experiencing combat-related mental health wounds have appropriate access to comprehensive mental health care.  I will continue working to ensure no veteran feels trapped like Sgt. Somers did and all veterans have access to the highest standard of health care.“

The Sergeant Daniel Somers Classified Veterans Access to Care Act ensures the VA's process identifies veterans with classified experiences and transitions them to individualized therapeutic treatment in an expedited fashion.  The bill directs the Secretary of VA to include the opportunity, on the appropriate medical and benefits information and forms, for a veteran to indicate if he or she participated in a classified mission during military service.

The legislation also directs the Secretary of the VA to develop and disseminate guidance to the necessary VHA personnel, including VA mental health professionals, to engage and direct individuals with classified experiences seeking mental health counseling to appropriate care settings.