Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) was welcomed back to the Capitol for the first time since a family tragedy last year.
"We love you. Welcome back," Gov. Bob McDonnell told Deeds in his final State of the Commonwealth address.
Deeds then stood as House and Senate members rose to applaud and show their support.
Earlier in the day, Virginia's Attorney General-elect Mark Herring was among the lawmakers to greet Deeds with handshakes and pats on the back as he sat at his desk on the back row of the Senate floor.
As the session began, there was no special acknowledgement of the tragedy but a deep, reddish scar is clearly visible across Deed's forehead and face.
Deeds was stabbed by his son Gus Nov. 19, a day after Deeds tried to get emergency mental health care for the 24-year-old.
After the attack, Gus killed himself. Through an aide, Deeds declined any comment Wednesday, but the incident has made reform of the mental health system a top priority of this 2014 session.
Deeds himself has proposed three bills including one that would increase the maximum time of an emergency custody order from the current six hours to 24 hours.
The order for Deeds son expired before a treatment bed could be found. Lawmakers promise a bipartisan approach tackling the issue of mental health reform.
"What happened to Sen. Deeds is a a tragedy," Fairfax County Del. Tim Hugo (R) said. "That's the right thing for government to do, is focus on issues like mental health. That's where Republicans and Democrats agree. We're going to come together and figure some things out."