Congress Passes Sweeping End-of-Year Bill Impacting ‘Every Corner’ of the Veteran Community

Congress approved a bill Wednesday that increases resources for homeless veterans, creates a Department of Veterans Affairs advisory committee for Native American veterans and mandates that every VA hospital hire a dedicated women’s health provider, among dozens of other measures. The legislation also includes numerous provisions for female veterans, Native American veterans, homeless veterans, student veterans, veterans experiencing the effects of toxic exposures and those affected by the coronavirus.

In an effort to improve services for women veterans, the bill creates a dedicated Office of Women’s Health at VA, provides $20 million to retrofit VA hospitals with women’s health spaces and makes permanent a program to provide childcare at VA facilities, among other measures. It also aims to help veterans suffering from military sexual trauma. In 2018, the VA Office of Inspector General reported that the department wrongfully denied benefits to thousands of veterans who filed claims for military sexual trauma — rejection that potentially caused stress and psychological harm, the IG said.

The bipartisan bill was backed by several national veterans’ organizations. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America pushed Congress to approve the measures for women veterans for nearly four years.

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Senate Passes Historic Bill to Support Women Veterans

(U.S. Senate) – Women veterans will have greater access to critical care and services following the signing of U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s historic Deborah Sampson Act into law today by the President. Tester’s bipartisan bill unanimously passed the Senate last month as part of an end-of-year package to better address the needs of veterans nationwide.

“This is a historic moment for the nearly two million women veterans across the country who will now have access to quality health care and benefits under the Deborah Sampson Act,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “This new law will ensure that VA does its part in supporting the selfless women who have borne the battle by providing services tailored to meet their needs now and into the future. I thank Senator Boozman, Congresswoman Brownley, IAVA, and DAV for partnering with me on this bipartisan effort to help change the culture at VA to better support women veterans’ service and sacrifice.”

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