Brindisi Proposal to Increase Women Veterans’ Access of VA Services Passes House
WASHINGTON – A proposal by Rep. Anthony Brindisi that the VA’s Women Veterans Call Center be transformed into an online, one-stop-shop for women veterans’ benefits has been passed in the House.
Brindisi’s bill, H.R. 2972, was included in The Deborah Sampson Act, a reform omnibus bill intended to remove barriers and improve women veterans’ care.
Among other things, Brindisi’s bill statutorily requires VA’s Women Veterans Call Center to be accessible via text and improves accessibility to veterans benefits information for women.
In a statement Brindisi, a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said, “Women are the fastest growing demographic of veterans and we need to make sure the VA is equipped to handle their specific needs.”
“Increasing efficiency, reliability, and accessibility at the VA will help make sure every veteran gets the care and benefits they earned,” he said. “I am hopeful this common-sense bill, supported by Democrats and Republicans in the House, can get through the Senate and to the President’s desk. Our women veterans deserve it.”
In addition to Brindisi’s provisions, the Deborah Sampson Act will:
· Empower women veterans by expanding group counseling for Veterans and their family members and call centers for women veterans;
· Improve the quality of care for infant children of women Veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide;
· Eliminate 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;
· Authorize additional grants for organizations supporting low-income women veterans and increases resources for homeless women and their families; and
· Improve the collection and analysis of data regarding women veterans and require the VA to report on the availability of prosthetics made for women veterans.
Brindisi’s contribution to the bill is already receiving praise from local veterans in his district.
“While it’s amazing that it takes a congressional bill to force the VA to serve the needs of women, I’m thankful Rep. Brindisi is aware of the rapidly changing ‘face of the military,’” said Air Force veteran Shirley Eadline.
“This legislation addresses the increased numbers and needs of a younger generation of women who stepped forward when America asked for volunteers,” she said. “While old institutions change slowly, this legislation allows woman veterans to reach out to the VA using a method that may be less emotionally traumatic and to be provided the care that is appropriate for them.
“Representative Brindisi is helping to make the VA more accessible and responsive to the needs of a younger more diverse veteran population,” Eadline added.
Army veteran Patricia Paquette said she too was heartened by Brindisi’s bill, as well as what she described as “his overall sensitivity to the special challenges that women veterans like me face in the VA’s male-oriented culture.”
“With this bill’s passage, I am hopeful that the VA will be more responsive to the needs of women veterans in New York and across the country,” Paquette said.
The legislation is Brindisi’s fourth bill supporting Veterans and our nation’s servicemembers to pass the House.