Women Veterans Committee Update November/December 2016

VVA supports S.2921, The Veterans First Act, which includes the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015. However, it still needs more cosponsors. As all of us who have had illnesses resulting from toxic exposure during our service time can confirm, this research needs to be done.

In a time when many feel Congress has been in a stalling pattern, it is important to look back on some of the women veteran bills that are making progress.

S.2487, Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act: Sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), it became Public Law 114-188 on June 30.

H.R.5431, Expanding Care for Female Veterans Act: Sponsored by Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), it was referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.

S.2049: A bill to establish in the VA a continuing medical education program for non-VA medical professionals who treat veterans and family members of veterans to increase knowledge and recognition of medical conditions common to veterans and family members of veterans. Sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on May 24.

We will need to review our committee resolutions in January to align our women veterans’ needs to create the next legislative agenda. Sometimes we look at just women veterans and forget that we are part of the big picture of women in our society.

The International Women’s Forum focused on ten tenets this year. Many of them are no different from what women veterans have long advocated for. One that I focus on: We can help women and girls determine their own future. Another is defeating discrimination: How to end violence against women. This is reflected in our continued work on military sexual trauma. Lastly, to move women forward, we must recognize that things are looking up.

By Kate O’Hare-Palmer, Chair

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