IAVA Celebrates Senate Passage of Landmark Women Veterans Legislation
WASHINGTON – The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on Thursday cheered Senate passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out the three-year pilot program to assess how best to provide assistance to women veterans.
The pilot program, which had been the centerpiece of IAVA’s #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign, will look at the feasibility of providing peer-to- peer assistance to women who are leaving or have just left the service, and who may be dealing with the trauma of sexual assault or potential homelessness.
In early 2017, representatives of the IAVA, the nation’s largest group representing post-9/11 veterans, met with Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., in the basement of the Capitol building to discuss severe gaps in the health care of women veterans, sowing the seeds of what eventually became the Deborah Sampson Act.
“As the fastest growing veteran cohort, it is past time that women veterans receive care that is equal to both their male veteran counterparts and care that civilians receive,” said Jeremy Butler, IAVA CEO, “ The Deborah Sampson Act takes a giant step toward closing those gaps as well as helping to ensure veterans feel safe when accessing care at VA.”
The Deborah Sampson Act aims to significantly reduce barriers to care for women veterans while expanding services to address issues like reintegration, homelessness, and newborn care.
It also includes provisions to address sexual harassment and assault in VA facilities and establishes an Office of Women’s Health directly under the Undersecretary of VA for Health.
“For over three years IAVA has worked tirelessly to push the Deborah Sampson Act over the finish line, and we are almost there. We thank Senators Tester and Boozman for their continuous support of women veterans and for their commitment to seeing this pass,” Butler added.
The Senate’s passage of the Deborah Sampson Act also included a large veterans package that includes two pieces of IAVA-supported legislation. These provisions would provide assistance for homeless veterans, veteran job retraining assistance, and the creation of an advisory committee on Tribal and Indian Affairs.
The legislation now moves on to the House for a vote before ultimately heading to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.