A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill last week that would require the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to improve health care for women veterans. According to the summary of the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act (see PDF), there are 1.7 million women veterans today, a number that is estimated to double in the next five years.
Women veterans face disproportionate effects of Military Sexual Trauma (MST), the difficulties with child birth, and functioning as care-givers after military service. The proposed legislation would require the VA and the Department of Defense to study and assess women veterans’ physical, mental, and reproductive health needs. The bill would also require that each VA facility have at least one women’s health expert on staff.
Senator Jay Rockefeller said in a press release, “For decades women have served with great distinction in our armed services, including on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, when they return home and begin to receive medical care through the VA they encounter a system that is better equipped to deal with the needs of men. It’s long past time to fix that. Our legislation would require the VA to implement new standards of care to better meet the needs of women who are quickly filling our veteran ranks.”