(Washington D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray’s (D-WA) comprehensive bi-partisan legislation to prepare the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the influx of women veterans who will access care there in the coming years has passed the Senate and House of Representatives. Senator Murray’s bill, the Women Veterans Health Improvement Act of 2009, will address many of the unique needs of female veterans, particularly those women who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The women veterans bill, which is included in S. 1963, The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, is expected to be signed into law by President Obama in the coming days.
“This is a big victory for women veterans who have stepped up to serve at unprecedented levels,” said Senator Murray. “And it is a major step forward in helping the VA to meet the challenge of serving them when they walk through their door. This bill addresses the unique challenges women face by providing specialized care for the visible and invisible wounds of war. As more women begin to transition home, and step back into lives as mothers, wives, and citizens, the VA must be there for them.”
“Generations of women have served honorably in all of this country’s major conflicts. These women have earned the right to expect the same high quality health care services and benefits as their male counterparts,” said Dave Gorman, Executive Director of Disabled American Veterans (DAV). “While significant progress has been made in recent years to remove institutional barriers that often discourage women veterans from seeking assistance at VA facilities, more needs to be done. The Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act will help ensure these women have equal access to VA benefits and services. DAV is proud to have worked on this legislation with Senator Murray, who has proven herself time and again to be a steadfast and effective champion for all of America’s veterans.”
Among other things, the legislation introduced today will: Require the VA to implement a program to train, educate, and certify VA mental health professionals to care for women with sexual trauma
Require the VA Secretary to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the barriers women are facing in accessing care at the VA.
Authorize a report to Congress on the effects the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on the physical, mental, and reproductive health of women who have served there.
Require the VA to begin a pilot program that provides child care to women veterans that seek mental health care services at the VA.
Require the VA to begin a pilot program that provides readjustment counseling to women veterans in group retreat settings.
See more detailed Information on the Women Veterans Health Improvement Act.