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Historic Women Veterans Bill Adds Senator Capito

NEW YORK, NY (January 24, 2018) – Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading Post-9/11 veterans empowerment organization, applauds Senator Shelley Moore Capito for co-sponsoring the Deborah Sampson Act (S. 681) to fully recognize and support women veterans. Senator Capito joins more than fifty bipartisan leaders in Washington to co-sponsor this critical bill, led by Senators Tester (D-MT) and Boozman (R-AR). 

Along with changing the VA’s non-inclusive motto, the Deborah Sampson Act aims to fill critical gaps in VA care for women vets, including: funding peer-to-peer assistance and improved legal and support services; data tracking and reporting; and newborn medical care. The Deborah Sampson Act is named after Deborah Sampson, a woman who disguised herself as a man in order to serve in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

“IAVA’s over 425,000 IAVA members nationwide and especially those in West Virginia want to thank Senator Capito for stepping up to support women veterans at this critical time. West Virginia is home to more than 10,000 women veterans. Senator Capito’s leadership on the Deborah Sampson Act will add a tremendous boost to our efforts. In IAVA’s most recent member survey, only 27 percent of women veteran respondents felt that the American public respects their service,” said Paul Rieckhoff, Founder and CEO of IAVA. 

“After 15 years at war with women on the front lines, we can no longer tolerate a VA that does not adequately support women veterans, both in its services and in its culture. That’s why IAVA and bipartisan members of Congress introduced the Deborah Sampson Act,” said Allison Jaslow, IAVA Executive Director and two-tour Iraq War veteran. 

“Now, more than ever before, women are stepping up to serve our country,” Senator Capito said. “Legislation like The Deborah Sampson Act will help these women veterans when they return home by improving essential resources and support like peer-to-peer counseling, maternity and newborn care, and legal services. I am proud to support this bill, which not only provides our servicewomen with these important resources, but also recognizes them for their service.” 

Since the bill’s introduction, 17 Veterans Service Organizations, including the VFW, the American Legion, and Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) have signed on as partners, and thousands of veterans and supporters have engaged their Members of Congress to encourage their support.

The Deborah Sampson Act does the following: 

  • Changes 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 for women veterans,
    Improves the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide and authorizing medically-necessary transportation for newborns,
  • Eliminates barriers to care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers and coordinators in VA facilities, training clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women veterans,
  • Provides support services for women veterans seeking legal assistance and authorizes additional grants for organizations supporting low-income women veterans,
  • Improves the collection and analysis of data regarding women and minority veterans, and expands outreach by centralizing all information for women veterans in one easily accessible place on the VA website.

She Who Borne The Battle: More than 345,000 women have deployed since 9/11. 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 decades. 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. Learn more at SheWhoBorneTheBattle.org.

A fact sheet on The Deborah Sampson Act can be found here and full text of the bill can be found online HERE.

Note to media: Email press@iava.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the leading post-9/11 veteran empowerment organization (VEO) with the most diverse and rapidly growing membership in America. As a non-profit founded in 2004, IAVA’s mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. Celebrating its 12th year anniversary, IAVA has connected more than 1.2 million veterans with resources and community, and provided more than 7,300 veterans with personalized support from IAVA’s Master’s level social workers.