WASHINGTON, D.C. (KNWA/KFTA) – The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (VA) passed legislation Wednesday with the support of U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to improve VA care and services for women veterans.
Boozman and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the bipartisan legislation called the Deborah Sampson Act, intended to eliminate barriers to care and services that many women face. The bill is also meant to help ensure the VA will be able to address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment and go without necessary health care.
“More women are answering the call to serve in uniform,” Boozman said. “The modern makeup of our veteran population requires us to reexamine how we can best serve their needs.”
Boozman said removing the obstacles women face to receiving the care and benefits they earned is necessary to fulfilling his promise to veterans.
“We are one step closer to making the VA more accommodating to the unique challenges facing these brave former service members,” Boozman said.
Ranking Member Tester said women are the fastest growing population of veterans and the VA Committee needs to be fully prepared to meet their needs.
“The landmark passage of our Deborah Sampson Act sends a very important message—not only to women veterans, but to the American public—that my colleagues and I came together during politically turbulent times to do what’s right,” Tester said. “In this case, it means getting one step closer to providing critical support to our sisters, mothers, and daughters who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.”
The Deborah Sampson Act includes the following provisions:
- Empowers women veterans by expanding group counseling for veterans and their family members and call centers for women veterans,
- Improves the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide,
- Eliminates barriers to care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers in VA facilities, training clinicians and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women veterans,
- Improves the collection and analysis of data regarding women veterans, expands outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on the VA website and requires the VA to report on the availability of prosthetics made for women veterans.
According to the press release, there are 19,000 women veterans in Arkansas. The press release also says Veterans Affairs data shows women comprised nine percent of the nationwide veteran population in 2015 and that number is expected to increase to more than 16 percent within the next 25 years.