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Women Veterans’ Fight for Equality Achieves Major Milestones

WASHINGTON, DC (May 17, 2017) – Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) reached historic milestones in its #SheWhoBorneTheBattle campaign to recognize and support women veterans. Backed by Congresswoman and Iraq veteran Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Congresswoman and Afghanistan veteran Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) the bipartisan Deborah Sampson Act was officially introduced into the House of Representatives. IAVA Executive Director and Iraq veteran Allison Jaslow then testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC) on the Senate version of the comprehensive women veterans bill, speaking to her experience and on behalf of IAVA’s veteran members, 20% of whom are women. 

The progress on the Deborah Sampson Act marks a shift in momentum behind #SheWhoBorneTheBattle ahead of Memorial Day, when IAVA will raise awareness of the nearly 200 women killed in action since 9/11. 


“It was an honor to represent IAVA’s 425,000 members before Congress and give a voice to the nearly 345,000 women who have deployed since September 11, 2001. I am additionally inspired by the leadership of the only women combat veterans in the House as they got behind the Deborah Sampson Act,” said Allison Jaslow.  “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 the system’s culture.  That’s why IAVA asked the VA to demonstrate its commitment to culture changes by updating its motto: ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan. Why I also challenged Senators today to consider the message that the support of a more inclusive motto sends to the women veterans they represents.   And, why I urged them to think hard about what opposition to this idea may indicate to the women who feel alienated by the very agency that’s supposed to support them.  

“There remain critical gaps in VA care for women vets and they aren’t being filled fast enough,” continued Jaslow. “We look forward to working with leaders in Congress to act quickly to pass this bill and ensure that women finally get the recognition and services they deserve.”

Watch Allison’s testimony on the Deborah Sampson Act online here.

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 

The Deborah Sampson Act: Created in consultation with IAVA staff and driven by quantitative and qualitative data from IAVA’s annual member survey, the Deborah Sampson Act will:

  • Foster cultural change;
  • Strengthen data and transparency;
  • Recognize and support the value of peer support;
  • Require coordinated community care and;
  • Increase outreach
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