Fully Recognize and Improve Services for Women Veterans
Why is IAVA focused on Women Veterans?
Over 345,000 women have deployed since 9/11. While the number of male veterans is expected to decline in the next decades, the population of women veterans will increase. Women continue to take on new roles and responsibilities throughout the services. Yet, their service and sacrifice is often overlooked. 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.
How are Women Veterans impacted?
Though the quality of care and services provided by the VA for all veterans needs to dramatically improve, this is particularly critical for women veterans. The number of women seeking care at the Department of Veterans Affairs has increased by 80%. While the VA has created a firm foundation of care for women veterans, it is past time that the VA, with the support of Congress, bring that foundation to scale.
Not only do women veterans encounter barriers to care and benefits, they do so in a culture that often does not accept them or fully recognize them as veterans. The time to act is now. We must improve access to care and benefits while changing the underlying culture to one inclusive of women. This glaring problem is best exemplified in the gendered and very outdated motto that greets every person, male and female, who walks into the VA: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”
How widespread is the problem?
The number of women in both the military and veteran communities has been growing steadily since the 1970s. While more women are joining the military and are finally given unprecedented roles in combat and greater responsibilities in leadership, veteran services and benefits often lag behind.
83% of IAVA members believe it is important for IAVA to focus on the issues impacting women veterans while only 27% feel that the general public understands the contributions of women in the military.
What is IAVA doing about this issue?
IAVA is working with Legislators to ensure the health of servicemembers and veterans. Our recommendations for the 116th Congress are:
- Foster Cultural Change to Fully Recognize the Service of Women Veterans
- Improve Care and Benefits for Women Veterans
- Ensure Streamlined Care for Women between DoD and VA
- Improve Employment, Housing, and Child Care Benefits and Services
- Collect, Analyze, and Share Data on Services for Women Veterans
Most Importantly, We're Winning
How is IAVA making progress toward these goals?
- December 20, 2019: Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act of 2019 passed into law
- November 13, 2019: IAVA-led Landmark Legislation to Recognize Service of Women Veterans Passes House
- July 23, 2019: Helping Expand and Launch Transitional Health (HEALTH) for Women Veterans Act passed by the House
IAVA's Big 6
As a direct result of our Annual Membership Survey, IAVA has focused on the six biggest issues facing veterans today. Learn more about our other issues.
Support Our Efforts
We can’t do this without your help. Tell your representatives how important it is to recognize the service of women veterans and close gaps in care provided to them by the VA.
More about recognizing and improving services for Women Veterans
While the past few years have been encouraging in the display of growing interest in ensuring health care accessibility for women veterans at VA, increasing support for women veterans, and expanding services, there is still much work to do. Women still report being stigmatized or feeling unwelcome at VA, and the Departmental motto itself is gender-exclusive. As a nation we must recognize GI Jane as much as GI Joe; it’s past time that the military culture and our nation embrace this, and recognize, celebrate, and support the service of all veterans that serve this nation.
We need to take the American people to a place where women vets are envisioned just as readily as men. Congress must act to not only bring equality to VA health care for women, but also resource-sensible services like childcare. “Access to Quality Care for Our Veterans” should be gender blind, which in the case of supporting single parents, can impact men just as much as women.
Beth Riesgraf, star of Paramount Network’s hit series 68 Whiskey, partnered with IAVA to shine a light on the unique issues women face during active duty service and when they transition back to civilian life. The goal of the film is to build meaningful support for The Deborah Sampson Act. Watch her film HERE.