NEW YORK, NY (March 19, 2017) – As the nation continues to reel from the “Marines United” photo scandal, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization representing post-9/11 veterans and their families, today announced the launch of a historic new campaign focuses on changing the culture and standard of care for millions of women veterans. The campaign entitled “She Who Borne the Battle” will activate veterans nationwide to take action, promote awareness, help other veterans and work with Members of Congress to introduce comprehensive new legislation, to include a change to the VA’s outdated and un-inclusive motto, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan,” to be more gender-inclusive.
“I deployed twice to Iraq. I was in combat. And after nearly 15 years of women being on the frontlines of our nation’s ‘War on Terror,’ I shouldn’t feel like a second-class veteran,” said Allison Jaslow, Chief of Staff for IAVA. “As a nation, we need to care for she who shall have borne the battle, too-and that starts with changing the culture around women who serve.”
More than 345,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population and that trend will continue as the number of male veterans simultaneously declines over the next five years. However, many female veterans are left without the proper care to support their needs when they return from their service. She Who Borne the Battle will change this by providing a foundation of public awareness, local support and policy changes solely targeted at supporting and empowering female veterans.
IAVA will roll out the groundbreaking campaign through a series of important and inspiring activities this week:
Starting on Monday, March 20th, the anniversary of the Iraq war, and over the course of the next week, IAVA members will “Storm the Hill” to advocate for better equality and care for women veterans. Veteran leaders from across America will converge on Capitol Hill for a week of advocacy. Our members will meet with Veterans Affairs Secretary Shulkin, other top administration officials, the Ambassador Of Afghanistan, other VSOs, members of the media and dozens of Members of Congress. IAVA has also formally requested a meeting of Storm The Hill’s female veterans with the President at the White House.
On Tuesday, IAVA will lead the introduction of comprehensive new legislation, “The Deborah Sampson Act,” focused on changing the antiquated culture within the VA, women veteran peer support; gender-based data and transparency; VA and community outreach to women veterans; and coordinated community care. The Deborah Sampson Act is named after Deborah Sampson, who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. IAVA will roll out our new policy agenda for the 115th Congress. IAVA’s Policy Agenda is a detailed blueprint for how all American’s can support and empower the Post-9/11 generation of veterans.
On Wednesday,backed by IAVA leaders from across America in the hearing and online, Jaslow will testify in Congress on the need to bring greater standards of care to women veterans, and on the need to change the VA’s outdated motto.
“How can we swiftly show every woman who is and has worn a uniform that we honor her as much as the man standing in formation next to her?” asked Jaslow. “We can replace the VA’s motto. If women aren’t recognized by the guidepost of the VA, it’s ridiculous to suggest to us that we are truly recognized for our service in the eyes of our fellow Americans. We look forward to a massive week in Washington to launch this critical, innovative, bi-partisan campaign. And we invite all Americans to join us. “
For over 13 years, IAVA has created and led historic wins for veterans–and for America— ranging from the New GI Bill, to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, to crushing the VA Backlog, to the Clay Hunt SAV Act/ Every one of these efforts started with a “Storm The Hill.” IAVA will make this Storm The Hill and this campaign its most transformative initiative yet.
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"Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America...remains the most important organization representing the new generation of veterans." - TIME Magazine
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the premier veterans advocacy and support organization on the planet. Founded by an Iraq veteran in 2004, IAVA is the non-partisan leader in advocacy, public awareness, and 1-on-1 case management support. Our mission is to connect, unite, and empower over 425,000 veterans and allies nationwide. We have connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided thousands of veterans of all generations with life-saving and life-changing personalized support from our Masters-level social service professionals.
Learn more at iava.org.