Women Veterans Committee Update November/December 2020

Kate O'Hare-Palmer, Women Veterans Committee Chair


VVA’s Women Veterans Committee has been thrust into the age of virtual meetings. We join the world as we get accustomed to the shelter-in-place COVID-19 restrictions. I offer my condolences to those with loved ones affected by this virus.

Congratulations to our committee vice chair and Homeless Committee chair, Sandy Miller, for her appointment to the VA National Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. She gave us a report during our October 6 virtual committee meeting about her first review of the Tucson VA Medical Center. She will share a wealth of knowledge with this group.

I have continued to meet with VVA committee chairs and special advisers to finish the five-month project on COVID-19 mortality rates in state veterans homes. This report can be found on the VVA website. It is eye opening and brought national attention to the need for better health practices for veterans.

H.R.8270, the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2020, to amend Title 10 of the U.S. Code to improve the responses of DOD to sex-related offenses and for other purposes, is sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.). Our committee has been following Sgt. Guillen’s disappearance and death from Ft. Hood in July.

I wrote a VVA-supported letter to DOD entitled “Do the Right Thing—Stop Military Sexual Assault.” Thousands of veterans were outraged by this crime and demanded action. One of our committee members, Frank Arminio, reported a new benefit for Sgt. Guillen’s family: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/10/20/vanessa-guillens-family-will-receive-military-death-benefits-after-new-army-ruling.html

On September 30, the Acting Deputy VA Secretary, Pamela Powers, hosted a virtual seminar on New Women Veterans Health Services. This is something that we can watch at home. The Quick Start Guide is: va.gov/women-veterans-health-services-quick-start-guide.pdf It contains a wealth of information on women’s reproductive and post-menopausal health.

Information on whole health resources, including newer holistic health approaches and treatment modalities, can be found at https://www.va.gov/wholehealth and at #livewholehealth. Muscular skeletal pain, nervous system symptoms, headaches, chronic pain, PTSD, and depression are highlighted. Treatment modalities now available at the VA or through a referral to community care include chiropractic, massage, yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture. These may not be readily advertised, and approval from your primary doctor is required for the referrals.

The committee will review our current resolutions and submit any new ones for VVA’s National Convention. Please forward your suggestions to me or a committee member. We are in limbo about our next in-person committee meeting in Silver Spring with the whole BOD.

A question was posed at one of the many Zoom meetings that I have attended: What is your mission, aspiration, and purpose? It may be narrowed down during this new reality to something as simple as calling a friend or sharing a meal. VVA chapters have done exceptional work in filling in community services and sharing resources while practicing safety guidelines. Keep it up.

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