WASHINGTON— Congress is sending President Donald Trump legislation to sign into law championed by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) that will enhance Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care and services for women veterans.
The Senate and the House of Representatives passed the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020, a package of veterans’ health care and benefits improvement. It includes the Deborah Sampson Act, legislation that will eliminate barriers to better support the needs of women who answer the call to serving their nation in uniform.
“We need to create a culture at the VA that welcomes women veterans and makes them feel like they belong. It’s long overdue that we update the belief that when a woman seeks care at the VA it’s because her husband is the veteran,” Boozman said on the Senate floor.
The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Boozman and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT). Their bill garnered support from leading Veteran Service Organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
“Women veterans comprise approximately 10 percent of the veteran population and are the fastest growing cohort within the veteran community. The VFW applauds Senator Boozman for his perseverance to ensure the Deborah Sampson Act becomes law. The Deborah Sampson Act would require VA to address privacy concerns and improve access, expand the amount of time new mothers are given to find health care coverage for their newborns, increase staff cultural competency, eliminate harassment and assault, and make other much-needed improvements to women veterans health care. The VFW believes that VA can provide the highest quality of care to women veterans to guide and assist them during their seasons of life,” said Tammy Barlet, VFW Associate Director of National Legislative Services.
“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, CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “We applaud Senator Boozman and Senator Tester for their continuous dedication to women veterans over the years and ensuring that the Deborah Sampson Act was passed before the end of the 116th Congress.”
There are 19,000 women veterans in Arkansas. According to VA data, women comprise 10 percent of the veteran population. That number is expected to increase to more than 16 percent within the next 25 years.