For decades, the VA primarily focused on serving male veterans. As more occupational specialties are opened to women wishing to serve in the military, however, an ever-increasing number of women are joining the Armed Forces.
Currently, women make up 16.2 percent of active duty military forces and 19 percent of National Guard and Reserves. More than half a million women veterans are currently using VA health care services. As the number of women serving increases, so will the number who are seeking care from the VA.
As Congress develops strategies and policies for the VA to follow to improve care for the increasing number of women veterans, there needs to be an equal effort to ensure the needs of women veterans with spinal cord injury and related diseases (SCI/D) are factored into these decisions.
In 2019, PVA’s Government Relations Department took several measures to ensure the needs of women veterans with SCI/D are addressed by Congress. These efforts included holding meetings between PVA’s National Vice President Tammy Jones and key members of Congress on Capitol Hill, participating in House Women Veterans Task Force meetings, and submitting testimony to Congress about the needs of women veterans with catastrophic disabilities.
As a direct result of these efforts, the House passed the Deborah Sampson Act (H.R. 3224). This legislation includes language requiring an annual assessment of the accessibility of VA’s women’s health centers and the treatments provided.
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Associate Executive Director of Government Relations