Senators Introduce Legislation to Improve Care for Women Veterans

Apr 02 2008

Bill focuses on the need to improve care as the population of women veterans using the VA rapidly grows

Bill Summary

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including Patty Murray (D-WA), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR ), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation to improve care for women veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The legislation, the Women Veterans Health Improvement Act of 2008 seeks to prepare the VA for the unprecedented influx of female veterans who will access care there in the coming years. VA officials estimate that the amount of women who will utilize the VA will double in the next five years. 

The legislation introduced today will address many of the unique needs of female veterans by authorizing programs to improve care for Military Sexual Trauma (MST), increase research on the current barriers to care, and expand women veterans staff positions at the VA.

"The huge number of women that have responded to the call of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan has created new challenges that the VA must step up to meet," said Senator Murray. "As more women transition home with the physical and mental wounds of war, and step back into lives as mothers, wives, and citizens, the VA must be there for them. This bill addresses the unique challenges women face by providing specialized care for the visible and invisible wounds of war."

Sen. Hutchison said, “Health problems for women veterans are very real and this legislation will make it a much greater focus for the Veterans Administration than ever before.”

"Women make up one of the fastest growing subgroups of veterans,” said Senator Murkowski.  “As the Department of Veterans Affairs works to ensure that those who serve our Nation are not left behind, it is essential for them to recognize the physical, mental and reproductive health challenges that face women veterans may require a different menu of services, delivered in a different way than the VA has grown accustomed to."

“Today, in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world, women are serving proudly, placing their lives at risk on a daily basis for our country,” Senator Lincoln said.  “We want to ensure these women - and all our veterans - return home to a high quality health care system their service has earned and that they certainly deserve.  Making the improvements outlined in our bipartisan bill is the least we can do for those whom we owe much.” 

“For decades women have served with great distinction in our armed services, including on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan," said Senator Rockefeller. "Yet, when they return home and begin to receive medical care through the VA they encounter a system that is better equipped to deal with the needs of men.  It’s long past time to fix that,” Rockefeller said. “Our legislation would require the VA to implement new standards of care to better meet the needs of women who are quickly filling our veteran ranks.”