A new Congress calls for an introduction of new legislation. With more veterans groups and elected officials calling for more inclusive treatment of women at VA, legislators on both sides of the aisle have introduced a few bills to further support the needs of women veterans.
Here’s what’s on tap for servicewomen thus far in 2019.
Deborah Sampson Act
Named after a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army, this bill includes a host of suggestions for the VA on how to close the gender gap. Some major changes include requiring VA to partner with one nongovernmental agency to provide legal services to women, ensuring there is adequate staffing of women’s health primary care providers at each medical facility, and creating a women veterans training module for community providers.
VA Newborn Emergency Act
In an effort to protect new moms from burdensome medical bills, this would ensure the VA would cover medically-necessary emergency transportation services for newborn babies for certain woman veterans. Also, it would expand the seven days of VA-provided newborn medical care, when medically necessary.
Women Veterans and Families Health and Services Act of 2019
While VA does provide some reproductive care, this would broaden that care regardless of sex or marital status of the eligible service member. Some service-related injuries can effect reproductivity but in an effort to be proactive, the law would allow members of the Armed Forces to freeze their sperm or eggs before a deployment.
Accountability for Quality VA Care Act
To improve noncompliant conditions found in a 2018 Inspector General Report, the law would require the VA Secretary to monitor women veterans’ access to gender-specific care including mammography, maternity care, and gynecology.
Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act of 2019
Events like the Marines United scandal have caused many in the military community to evaluate the negative role of technology when it's in the wrong hands. The term “technological abuse,” is now defined as behavior intended to harm, threaten, intimidate, stalk and impersonate through the use of social networking, apps, and text messages. With this change, those who have experienced sexual trauma through this means can receive counseling and treatment from VA.
With it only being April, there's a possibility women veterans could see more congressional support in this upcoming year.