BY KATE O’HARE-PALMER, CHAIR
These past few months have been busy for women veterans. The coronavirus vaccine cannot be overlooked. I hope everyone is scheduled for vaccinations. Our hearts go out to everyone who has had a loved one affected by this disease.
The Women Veterans Committee met twice via Zoom in the last quarter and has completed work on the resolutions for the Convention. We reviewed the key points in the Deborah Sampson Act, S.514, and its far-reaching positive impact on women veterans’ rights and VA care. “Persistence got it done” is a motto of the many women and men who served on legislative committees and worked to enact this law. It is worth your time to review it.
I have attended three remote meetings with the Independent Review Commission created by DOD on military sexual assault and sexual harassment. The chair is Lynn Rosenthal. For details, click here.
The commission has been given 90 days to complete its independent review. The emphasis is on accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support. We can help. Anyone who has a history of military sexual trauma or harassment is encouraged to fill out this form by June. The commission is asking for recommendations, as well as your stories. It does not matter how long ago it happened. We will be heard. The long-term effects of these traumas will be reviewed in VA health care to help all of us.
The Center for Women Veterans website continues to be an important resource during the pandemic lockdown. This month there is a great review of women veteran trailblazers posted.
I’d like to point out two of them. Former VVA staffer and Women Veterans Committee member Maureen Elias served as a counterintelligence agent in the Army from 2001-06. She was selected for a High Ground Veterans Advocacy Fellowship and hired at VVA shortly after completing it. At VVA she traveled the nation teaching health care providers about the health effects of military service and advocating for recognition of the toxic effects of burn pits and other toxic exposures. She participated in Senate and House roundtables on women veterans health care and benefits. She now works for Paralyzed Veterans of America as head of government relations.
The second trailblazer I would like to highlight is Eileen Moore, Associate Justice of the State of California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. She served as an Army nurse in Vietnam in 1966. A member of Orange County Chapter 1024, Moore also was a founding member of the federal Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.
In the 1990s Moore began her advocacy for vulnerable veterans in education, community, and legal issues. She revised the MIL-100 form that is used by courts to identify military and veterans and advise them about special statutes for them in criminal courts. In 2008 she helped form the California Judicial Council of Veterans and Military Families Subcommittee. You can read her article, “Veterans Court, California Style,” in the September/October 2010 issue of The VVA Veteran.
Finally, I wanted to mention the VA’s women veterans website. It is a wealth of resources.
You also can talk with your provider, call 855-VA-Women, or check these resources. There are also VA apps for veterans here.