SHELTON, Conn. (WTNH) — A Connecticut family is one step closer to preventing Navy sailors from suffering as their son did.

Xavier Sandor of Shelton was one of seven crew members of the USS George Washington who died in April 2022. At least three of them died by suicide. A bill in Congress could keep that from happening again.

“You know, I’ve seen the ship,” Sandor’s father, John, said. “Prisoners have it better than our United States sailors.”

Sandor was a 19-year-old recent graduate of Shelton High School. He was assigned to the USS Washington as a Seaman Recruit while the aircraft carrier was docked for repairs. He was told junior sailors like him had to live on the ship, even though the state of repairs caused deplorable conditions. He resorted to sleeping in his car.

“He was 6’3″, sleeping in a little Toyota, you know?” his father recalled. “Not enough food, no hot water, just awful conditions.”

In April 2022, it became too much. Sandor took his own life. The Navy conducted a lengthy investigation into the cluster of suicides. Earlier this year, the Commander of U.S. Fleet forces, Admiral Daryl Caudle talked to WAVY, Nexstar’s station in Norfolk, Va.

“It was pointedly obvious that the Navy had failed the George Washington through a host of things that we put that ship into,” Caudle said in a phone interview.

“The Navy should have the ability to put up the money to put every single sailor who is living in dangerous conditions on shore in more adequate and suitable housing,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) as he stood with the Sandor family in Shelton Wednesday.

To ensure that, Connecticut’s senators introduced the Seaman Xavier Sandor Support for Sailors Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate with bipartisan support last week. The legislation would improve living conditions and mental health support for junior U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to ships undergoing extended maintenance in shipyards. 

“We can afford decent, humane housing for our sailors and the kind of mental health services they need,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.

Mental health services that some complained they had to wait six months for on the Washington. It’s a change Sandor’s family hopes saves others from the same fate.

“The pain that our family has suffered,” Sandor’s mother, Mary Graft, said. “No one should have to feel like this. Ever.”

The bill still has to go through the House of Representatives, but both senators said they are not just optimistic but confident that it will get the same bipartisan in the House that it did in the Senate, and it will get signed into law by the end of the year.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. This is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a trained listener, call 988. Service members and veterans can call 988 and then press “1”. There is also an online chat at