Gabbard, Esty Introduce Bill to Serve & Empower Female Veterans
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT-05) and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) announced the introduction of the Deborah Sampson Act at a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol today. The legislation addresses gender disparities at the VA to ensure that women veterans are getting the care they need. A companion bill, S.681, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator John Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is one of the first female combat veterans ever to serve in Congress, and is a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.
“Nearly 345,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet when they come home, they face a country and a VA that doesn't fully understand their service and their needs. Our country's veteran population has changed dramatically over the years, yet the VA has not kept up with those changes. Women veterans have lower rates of access to the VA than men, yet face higher rates of PTSD, military sexual assault (MST), exposure to trauma, unemployment and homelessness. With women as the fastest growing population in both our military and veteran communities, we must address this void in care. This legislation will help to improve the VA’s delivery of benefits and services to the more than 14,000 female veterans in Hawaiʻi, and more than 2 million female veterans nationwide, through a comprehensive network of support and services,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, co-chair of the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus.
Background: The Deborah Sampson Act will improve services for women veterans by:
- Empowering women veterans through expanded peer-to-peer counseling, group counseling and call centers for women veterans,
- Improving the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide and authorizing medically-necessary transportation for newborns,
- Eliminating barriers to care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers and coordinators in VA facilities, training clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women veterans,
- Providing support services for women veterans seeking legal assistance, and authorizing additional grants for organizations supporting low-income women veterans,
- Improving the collection and analysis of data regarding women and minority veterans, and expanding outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on the VA website.