Jun 16 2021
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are leading efforts to improve the health of women veterans by expanding Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mammogram screening eligibility.
The Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act would require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.
Additionally, the legislation directs the VA to submit a report to Congress within two years of enactment that compares the rates of breast cancer among members of the Armed Forces and the civilian population.
“Improving the VA’s procedures for mammography screenings will help ensure our women veterans are able to live long and healthy lives. Early detection and treatment for those individuals who may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer because of where they served is key to fighting this disease and upholding our promise to America’s past and present servicemembers,” Boozman, a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee said.
“I’m glad to join Senator Boozman to expand access to life-saving VA care and services.” Wyden said. “Women who have served may be at much higher risk of developing breast cancer and deserve access to early detection and treatment. Updating the VA’s guidelines for mammogram procedures will provide our nation’s veterans with the quality and preventative care they need to live healthy lives.”
The VA’s current guidance for administering mammograms is outdated given the unique environments in which military members serve and the additional risk factors associated with these locations. The incidence of breast cancer in women veterans and military populations is estimated to be up to 40 percent higher than the general population according to a report from the National Institutes of Health.
The legislation has the support of leading Veteran Service Organizations including the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion.
“Nearly half of the growing population of women veterans enrolled at VA is under age 45, which means many will have had exposure to burn pits during their military service, increasing their risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetime. The common-sense provisions within the SERVICE Act will give more women veterans access to potentially lifesaving screenings that are better aligned with their history of exposure. We thank Senator Boozman for his attention to this issue and for working to bolster VA’s mammography screening efforts, which can ultimately help to save veterans’ lives,” said Joy Ilem, DAV National Legislative Director.
“One of Wounded Warrior Project’s top priorities is ensuring that all veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during service have access to VA health care, and this certainly must include basic preventative care like mammography. Exposure to carcinogens and other toxic substances is a known risk factor to cancer and all women veterans who were exposed should have access to routine screening and early detection, regardless of age. The SERVICE Act would provide this potentially lifesaving care, and we thank Senator Boozman for his continued commitment to veterans of all eras who suffered toxic exposures,” said Jose Ramos, WWP Vice President for Government and Community Relations.
“Women veterans who were exposed to toxins found in burn pits and other exposures have an increased rate of breast cancer. The Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act of 2021 would direct VA to provide mammograms for women veterans who served in locations where burn pits and other toxins were used. The VFW supports this bill which would ensure life-saving preventative screening for toxic exposed women veterans,” said VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director Kristina Keenan.
Text of the legislation can be found here.
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