Senators Reintroduce Deborah Sampson Act to Improve VA Care, Services for Women
Feb 15 2019
WASHINGTON—This week U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jon Tester (D-MT) reintroduced their bipartisan Deborah Sampson Act to support women veterans.
Women are the fastest growing demographic of veterans, but many VA facilities don’t have the ability to provide equitable care or services to women veterans. The Deborah Sampson Act would eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face and would help ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans who are more likely to face homelessness, unemployment and go without needed health care.
“There are more than 20,000 women veterans in Arkansas. This population continues to increase as more women answer the call to serve in uniform. We must update VA services to support the unique needs of today’s entire veteran community,” Boozman, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said. “This legislation will improve healthcare, services and benefits that women veterans have earned.”
“Women veterans must feel comfortable and empowered to turn to the VA for the health care and benefits they earned,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “It’s important we ensure the VA is holding up its end of the bargain to our sisters, mothers and daughters. Our bill will help change the culture at the VA to better support women veterans’ service and sacrifice.”
The Deborah Sampson Act includes the following provisions:
- Empowers women veterans by expanding group counseling for veterans and their family members and call centers for women veterans,
- Improves the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide,
- Eliminates 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,
- Authorizes additional grants for organizations supporting low-income women veterans and increases resources for homeless women and their families,
- Improves the collection and analysis of data regarding women veterans, expands outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on the VA website and requires the VA to report on the availability of prosthetics made for women veterans.
The Deborah Sampson Act is endorsed by veterans across the country, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
“Women have bravely served their country for more than a century, from serving in disguise during the Civil War to the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Bob Wallace, VFW Executive Director. “The VFW applauds Senators Tester and Boozman for introducing the Deborah Sampson Act, which would improve the quality of gender-specific care women veterans receive, enhance benefits such as homeless assistance, and require VA to develop a better understanding of where it may be falling short. This bill must pass immediately to show that Congress is serious about caring for all veterans, regardless of gender, and ensure women veterans receive the benefits they rightfully deserve.”
"IAVA is profoundly appreciative for the reintroduction of the bipartisan Deborah Sampson Act by Sens. Tester and Boozman," said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Chief Policy Officer Melissa Bryant. "The face of our military has changed and the VA must adjust as well to ensure our increasing numbers of women veterans like me get the care we need. This bill is the centerpiece of our She Who Borne The Battle campaign and we call on Congress to finally pass this bill this year."
“The number of women veterans seeking VA health care services has more than doubled over the past decade, yet in many cases this population still feels marginalized by a VA health care and benefits system that was designed primarily for men and does not address their unique needs," said Dennis Nixon, DAV National Commander. “This bill would establish many critical provisions DAV has advocated for to improve access and the quality of care for women patients. We applaud Senators Tester and Boozman continued commitment to the nation's women veterans and urge swift passage of this important measure."
The Deborah Sampson Act is sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Text of the Deborah Sampson Act can be found here.