In a rare bipartisan move, Congress passed a major veteran omnibus package that featured a “crown jewel.” The Johnny Isakson and David P Roe Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act will provide additional pandemic aid to Native, homeless, and women veterans.
Within the package is another piece of legislation that represents the most comprehensive bill for women veterans in over a decade. In the making for several years by Veterans Affairs lawmakers, The Deborah Sampson Act focuses on significantly improving the care that female veterans receive at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Addressing the Longtime Needs of Women Veterans
The bill covers a wide range of longstanding needs. One, in particular, would address gender-based sexual harassment and assault, developing and implementing a systemwide VA policy and training programs meant to end inappropriate and violent acts. The legislation also calls for a pilot program and task force to examine intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Increased eligibility for military sexual trauma counseling would be an essential component.
The legislation also requires the following:
- Opening up eligibility for military sexual trauma counseling
- Hiring women’s health primary care providers at each facility
- Establishing an Office of Women’s Health
- Remodeling facilities to ensure privacy and improve care settings
- Extending care for newborns while increasing child care options
- Adding gender-specific healthcare equipment
- Providing a detailed Government Accountability Office report on homeless or at-risk women veterans
Women in military service can be traced back to the Revolutionary war. Currently, they are considered the fastest-growing segment among all veterans. Statistics reveal female veterans receiving VA care are at lower risk for both health problems and suicide than those who do not pursue medical help. Once and for all, the legislation addresses those challenges in accessing the benefits they earned and the care they need.
The bill currently awaits the president’s signature.