Leads Bipartisan Effort to Increase Women’s Awareness and Use of VA Services Upon Transition from Military Service to Civilian Life
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is again building on his efforts to improve women veterans’ experiences with and access to health care services at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Boozman joined Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) to introduce the Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act of 2019, legislation aimed at proactively helping women transitioning from active duty to civilian life learn about and utilize the VA services available to them.
“I’ve heard directly from women veterans in Arkansas that access to care and lack of awareness about the availability of gender-specific care at the VA are barriers of tremendous concern,” said Boozman. “As the number of women veterans continues to increase, this problem will only compound unless we do everything we can to help them understand the healthcare and resources available to them when they transition out of active duty. This legislation is a simple way to help increase awareness of and access to VA healthcare options for women veterans so that more will utilize these services and benefit from them after separating from military service.”
“Servicewomen face unique challenges as they transition from active duty, and many are unaware of the women-centered benefits and services – including mental health assistance, maternity care, cancer screenings and casework management – that the Veterans Health Administration provides,” said Cortez Masto. “Currently the average waiting time for women veterans to receive benefits from the VA after separating from service is almost three years. It’s crucial we close this gap in care, starting with increasing the knowledge of available VA healthcare resources. Our servicewomen and veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and they should be empowered to access the full range of services they need to thrive.”
The Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act of 2019 would direct the Department of Defense to encourage female service members separating or retiring from the Armed Forces to participate in the Women’s Health Transition Training Program which informs women about the services offered by the VA and offers guidance through the process. The bill also calls for the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, to submit a report to Congress by February 2021 on all available metrics on the program and make recommendations for improvements.
This legislation is supported by the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN).
Earlier this year, Boozman reintroduced the Deborah Sampson Act with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to eliminate barriers to care and services that many women veterans face and help ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans. It now has 39 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate and is supported by Veterans Service Organizations including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).