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Senate Committee Examines Services for Women Veterans

On June 3, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on several bills, including the Women Veterans’ Access to Quality Care Act (S. 471) and Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act (S. 425).

Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act

Sponsored by Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Patty Murray (D-WA), S. 471 would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish standards to ensure that all VA medical facilities are able to meet “the gender-specific health care needs of veterans at such facilities, including privacy, safety, and dignity.”

Among other provisions, the measure would require VA to use health outcomes for women veterans who receive health care provided by VA in evaluating the performance of its medical center directors, publish on its website information on performance and health outcomes for women veterans for each facility, ensure that every VA medical center has a full-time obstetrician or gynecologist, and carry out a pilot program to increase the number of residency program positions and graduate medical education positions for obstetricians and gynecologists at VA medical facilities in at least three Veterans Integrated Service Networks.

The bill would require the Government Accountability Office to examine whether VA medical centers are able to meet the health care needs of women veterans.

Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act

The measure, sponsored by Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), would reauthorize through FY2020 several programs that assist veterans seeking to reintegrate into the labor force, including programs targeted at homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.

Speaking in support of S. 471, Adrian Atizado, assistant national legislative director, Disabled American Veterans (DAV), said, “The intent of this bill is consistent with DAV’s 2014 Report, Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home; thus, the bill carries DAV’s full support. The bill is also consistent with DAV Resolution No. 040 to support enhanced medical services and benefits for women veterans, passed by the delegates to our most recent national convention.”

The following witnesses also testified during the hearing:

  • Thomas Lynch, assistant deputy under secretary for Health Clinical Operations, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs;
  • Fred Benjamin, vice president and chief operating officer, Medicalodges, Inc.;
  • Thomas J. Snee, national executive director, Fleet Reserve Association; and
  • SFC Victor Medina, US Army (Ret.).
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