Last month, Senator Patty Murray introduced the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2008 (S 2799), “to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.”
The bill calls for a long-term study of the health of women serving in Iraq, an assessment of barriers for women seeking care at Dept. of Veterans Affairs facilities and of the VA’s provision of health services to women, training of VA staff on treating women veterans who have experienced sexual trauma or PTSD. Although reliable estimates of military sexual assault and PTSD among women veterans are difficult to obtain, some authors have suggested that rate of sexual assault is 30% or higher. It also includes measures that would assist with child care while women are being seen by VA providers, and a requirement for VA medical centers to have a full-time women veterans program manager.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, although it is not clear when the committee will consider the legislation. A companion bill (HR 4107) was introduced in the House last November and was referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.