In 2017, IAVA launched our groundbreaking campaign, #SheWhoBorneTheBattle, focused on recognizing the service of women veterans and closing gaps in care provided to them by the VA. While many other organizations waited or chose other issues, we made the bold choice to lead on an issue that was important to not just the 20% of our members that are women, but to our entire membership, the future of healthcare and America’s national security. We fought hard for top-down culture change in the VA for the more than 345,000 women who have fought in our current wars–and for all Americans.
IAVA championed the bipartisan Deborah Sampson Act, comprehensive legislation aimed at improving VA services for women veterans, which now boasts dozens of cosponsors from both parties in the Senate and House. We deployed a media blitzkrieg, bringing much needed public awareness to the plight of women veterans, reaching more than 21 million people in traditional media and another 60 million on social media. And we backed important bills like the PRIVATE Act, in the wake of the Marines United scandal, which explicitly prohibits servicemembers from sharing intimate media without consent and strengthens military law to better enable prosecutions and passed into law as part of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). By the end of 2017, the #MeToo movement exploded across America, including a sub-movement for #MeTooMilitary, as military sexual assault and military sexual trauma continues to plague our community. IAVA’s latest Member Survey showed that 35% of IAVA women and 1% of IAVA men are survivors of military sexual assault.
2018 is a watershed moment for equality in American history, with an unprecedented number of women running for public office in the midterm elections, and we will ensure #SheWhoBorneTheBattle remains a priority in the national conversation and in all policymaking.
In 2018 IAVA will:
- Continue our public awareness campaign, #SheWhoBorneTheBattle, to bring greater cultural understanding of the increasing contributions of women service members.
- Pass the Deborah Sampson Act, which:
- Asks for a sensing of Congress to change the dated and exclusionary VA motto that currently reads, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphan.”
- Empowers women veterans by expanding peer-to-peer counseling, group counseling and call centers.
- Improves the quality of care for infant children of women veterans
- Eliminates barriers to care
- Provides support services for women veterans seeking legal assistance
- Improves the collection and analysis of data regarding women and minority veterans
- Continue to connect, unite and empower female post-9/11 veterans through our digital resources, our local VetTogether events and our nationally-recognized Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP).
Learn more about IAVA’s campaign to recognize and improve services for women veterans here.