Women Veterans Committee Update September/October 2020

Kate O'Hare-Palmer, Women Veterans Committee Chair


These past few months we have been working on a report with VVA’s Veterans Health Committee and its Subcommittee on the Aging Veteran Experience to review the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on State Veterans Homes. That report can be read in full at www.vva.org The statistics are worth the read. We will now begin to look at the health care and long-term care needs of senior veterans.

On July 13 the Women Veterans Committee prepared a VVA press release asking the Department of Defense to “Do the Right Thing—Stop Military Assault Now.” This was in response to the disappearance of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen from Ft. Hood on April 22. Her family went to Washington, D.C., to demand an accounting after two months of getting no information as to her whereabouts. Her remains were found during the July 4th weekend.

Another 3rd Cavalry Regiment soldier killed himself when the investigating team was about to question him. He is the alleged murderer. On July 6, ninety lawmakers pushed for acting Defense Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to begin an independent probe of the Army’s handling of Pfc. Guillen’s disappearance. Are America’s servicewomen truly safe on their bases?

On a more positive note, Congress is considering the Deborah Sampson Act, an omnibus bill intended to remove barriers and improve women veterans’ care. The proposed legislation, in large part the effort of the House Women Veterans Task Force, includes measures that would:

  • Provide gender-specific health care equipment, such as mammography machines, at every VA Medical Center
  • Mandate a VA-wide sexual harassment and assault policy, including training for employees
  • Ensure women veterans’ primary care is available during regular VA business hours
  • Establish an Office of Women’s Health
  • Improve communications about women veterans’ services
  • Establish and improve care standards
  • Provide more funding for women veteran programs
  • Permanently authorize PTSD counseling for women veterans in retreat settings
  • Expand eligibility for military sexual trauma counseling
  • Provide extended care for newborns.

All major veterans service organizations urge passage of this bill.

The VA Caregiver Expansion Bill will become effective in October. It will open up accessibility for Vietnam War veterans. Go to The Federal Register for more information.

And finally, DOD will be assessing the reproductive health of female service members via a new health survey, something many women have long been asking for. This will be the first reproductive health survey in 30 years.

We have come a long way since our time in the military. Please let me know topics that you are interested in.

Stay safe.

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