The bipartisan Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act supported by U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran, was recently signed into law as part of the Veterans COMPACT Act. Ernst helped pass the legislation in the Senate to increase access to mental health support for veterans across Iowa and the nation.
“After selflessly serving our nation in combat, many of our veterans continue to fight an internal battle at home – including mental health issues and thoughts of suicide,” said Senator Ernst. “As a combat veteran, I understand the challenges some of our servicemembers face when transitioning to civilian life, and I’ve continued to work across the aisle to ensure our nation’s heroes are provided with the support and care they deserve. I’m grateful for my colleagues and the president in getting this important bill signed into law.”
The Sergeant Daniel Somers Veterans Network of Support Act creates a pilot program to allow active duty servicemembers transitioning to civilian life to designate up to 10 loved ones to receive information from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) about benefits and services available to veterans through the VA and community partners. This bill was included in the larger Veterans COMPACT Act, which passed Congress and was recently signed into law by President Trump.
Last month, Ernst helped introduce bipartisan legislation to support the mental health needs of servicemembers and veterans as they return to their local communities. The bill was named to honor the memory of two Marines who died by suicide, including Iowan Cpl. Adam Lambert.
The Iowa senator introduced a bipartisan bill that would designate one week per year as “Buddy Check Week” to organize outreach events and educate veterans on how to conduct peer wellness checks and recognize signs of suicide risk among fellow veterans.
Ernst also worked across the aisle to introduce a bill that would increase funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) program to help Iowans who are struggling with thoughts of suicide and mental health challenges, including veterans.