Senate passes defense bill including Sinema’s Network of Support Act, Sinema’s military sexual assault reforms, and Arizona military priorities secured by Sinema
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate passed Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act as part of this year’s defense bill. The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The Senate also approved Sinema’s military sexual assault reforms in her Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act.
Sinema also secured funding for Arizona military installations and resources for Arizona servicemembers in today’s Senate-passed defense bill.
“Our servicemembers put their lives on the line to keep Arizona safe and secure, and it is our duty to ensure they have complete access to critical resources. Today’s passage of our Network of Support Act directly engages servicemembers’ loved ones, strengthening support for servicemembers and ensuring they have somewhere to turn in times of need,” said Sinema.
National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 Includes:
Sinema’s Sgt. Daniel Somers Network of Support Act:
- Legislation named after Arizona Army veteran Sergeant Daniel Somers who served two tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD upon returning home. He lost his life to suicide in 2013.
- Over the past five years, Sinema has worked with Daniel’s parents, Howard and Jean Somers, to advance legislation to help servicemembers receive the care they’ve earned. Together, they introduced the Network of Support Act.
- The bill requires the Defense Department and the Red Cross to collect from new servicemembers the names of loved ones they consider to be their networks of support. In return, the Department of Defense and Red Cross will provide information about benefits and services available to military members.
- By directly engaging families and loved ones, the Department can prepare and equip military friends and families to better understand military life, notice when a servicemember struggles, and ensure they have access to the necessary tools to help a servicemember get assistance or care.
Encouraging Growth at Camp Navajo:
- Sinema secured language encouraging the Army to expand public-private partnerships that will offer additional revenue to Camp Navajo, the Arizona National Guard, and the surrounding community.
Funding for Marine Corps Air Station Yuma:
- Sinema secured $90.1 million in funding for the renovation of MCAS Yuma’s Hangar 95.
- Sinema also secured $99.6 million in funding for the critical replacement of junior servicemembers’ barracks.
Funding for Luke Air Force Base’s F-35 Program
- Sinema helped secure $9.8 billion for 90 F-35 aircraft, an increase of over 12 aircraft from the President’s request.
Funding for Davis Monthan Air Force Base’s A-10 Program
- Sinema helped secure $132 million for the A-10 based at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.
Sinema’s Prevention of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act
- Bipartisan legislative reforms endorsed by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence Violence to improve the military’s ability to prevent and respond to sexual assault.
- The legislation directs the Defense Department to create a civilian advisory committee on sexual assault prevention. The committee would be comprised of up to 20 civilian members with expertise in campus sexual assault prevention, suicide prevention, public health, and culture change of large organizations, among other areas. The committee would advise the Secretary of Defense on ways to implement new programs or improve existing programs dedicated to preventing sexual assault.
- Additionally, the legislation allows the military to pay for exceptionally qualified enlisted members to attend law school and join the JAG Corps, and encourages military commanders to take prompt administrative action in cases where non-judicial accountability is necessary.
Sinema-shaped Military Special Victims Protection Act
- Legislation cosponsored and shaped by Sinema that codifies many of the military’s best practices for referring military sexual assault to courts martial, expands eligibility for Special Victim Counsel services to victims of certain domestic violence offences, and provides for the correction of military records and discharges for former military members who were survivors of military sexual trauma or intimate partner violence.
Sinema-backed Paid Leave for Federal Employees
- 12 weeks of paid parental leave to all federal civilian employees.
Sinema-backed repeal of the Widow’s Tax
- Three year phase out of the Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset, commonly called the Widow’s Tax, bringing an end to the shortchanging of Gold Star families.
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