News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), spoke at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee meeting to support the Walla Walla VA Outpatient Clinic authorization bill, as well as the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act. The committee then voted unanimously to support the bills and send them to the full Senate.

Senator Murray’s delivered the following opening statement at the hearing (as prepared):

“Chairman Akaka, Senator Burr, thank you very much for holding today’s markup on pending veterans’ legislation.  There are a number of important bills being considered by the committee today, but I want to make a few quick comments on one of the bills that I think is critical in moving the VA forward. 

“That bill is the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act. 

“As my colleagues on the Committee know, women are playing an increasing role in our military.  However, even as women take up increasing roles on the front lines of war, they remain a small minority at the VA. 

“The Independent Budget estimates that at current rates, the number of women using VA healthcare services will double in about five years.  We must prepare for this.  We cannot allow outdated attitudes or the VA's lack of preparation to interfere with the quality of care for this influx of new women veterans.

“And that is exactly why Senator Hutchison and I introduced the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009.  This important legislation, which is included in the health omnibus bill, expands and improves healthcare services for women veterans in the VA system, and it makes sure that the VA system will be responsive to the specific needs of women veterans.

“Mr. Chairman, I would also like to thank you for including my bill to authorize construction of an outpatient clinic at the Walla Walla VA Medical Center campus. As you know, the VA has already approved design and construction funds for this important project. Passing this bill will simply authorize the project and help fulfill our commitment to the 70,000 veterans in Washington, Idaho and Oregon who are served by the Walla Walla VA.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

Senator Murray has worked since 2003 to save the Walla Walla VA Medical Center and to ensure that it has a future.  She successfully fought for VA approval of the $71.4 million to design and construct a new outpatient clinic for Walla Walla area veterans, and spoke in support of the center at a Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing in April. 

Senator Murray reintroduced the bipartisan Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act in March with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin introduced similar bi-partisan legislation in the House of Representatives.

On April 22nd Senator Murray continued to push for the bill in a Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing with Dr. Gerald Cross, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Health.

The Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009 would assess, expand, and improve health care services to women veterans, particularly those brave women who have served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This bill aims to equip the VA for the long-term needs that will be associated with a larger women veteran population.  -  Bill Summary