On March 21, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Senator Jon Tester, introduced S. 681, the Deborah Sampson Act. This comprehensive measure addresses gender disparities and would improve and expand programs and services for women veterans provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The bill would establish a pilot program for peer-to-peer counseling and authorizes group retreat counseling for women veterans recently separated from military service. It would expand the capabilities within the VA Women Veterans Call Center and extend the number of days, from seven to 14, VA can cover the cost of care for newborns of women veterans and authorize medically-necessary transportation for newborns.
The legislation aims to eliminate barriers to care by ensuring every VA medical facility has at least one full-time or part-time women’s health provider, as well as a Women Veterans Program Manager and a Women Veteran Program Ombudsman. Additional resources are authorized for mini-residency training in women’s health for clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy, safety and improve the overall environment of care for women veterans.
S. 681 would provide support services for women veterans seeking legal assistance and authorizes additional grants for organizations supporting women veterans and their families. Finally, The Deborah Sampson Act would require data collection and reporting on all VA programs serving veterans, by gender and minority status, including a report on the availability of prosthetics for women veterans and would better coordinate outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on VA’s website.
DAV’s 2014 report, Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home identified many of these gaps in VA programs for women and has long advocated for a more comprehensive provision of VA women’s health services that appropriately recognizes and honors their service and sacrifice.
Please contact your elected representatives to urge co-sponsorship and passage of S. 681. A letter has been prepared for this purpose or you may write your own to express your personal views. Click the link below to log in and send your message:
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