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house Bill H.R. 3224

Should VA Services for Women Veterans be Expanded?

Argument in favor

Women have served in the American armed services since the Revolutionary War, but the quality of care they receive from the VA isn’t commensurate with their service to the country. Improving VA services to ensure that women veterans receive appropriate, high-quality care from the VA is an important way to thank these women for their service and ensure their long-term health.

jimK's Opinion
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11/13/2019
Yes, VA services should serve the needs of all veterans equitably. Women’s medical needs are, in many instances, different than the medical needs of men. Those needs should be fully accommodated as should be the special needs of any veteran.
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Joan's Opinion
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11/13/2019
Female veterans and service members should have medical care that is appropriate to the needs of women. I can't believe this is even a question.
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Celiaann's Opinion
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11/12/2019
There is a well known complication for women in the military Military Sexual Trauma! These women are affected for the rest of their lives! They deserve to have expanded support and resources!
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Argument opposed

This bill is being rammed through by the Democratic majority in the House without contributions from Republican committee members, despite minority members’ attempts to contribute to debate in late October 2019. The process by which this bill was passed by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee violated committee norms so it shouldn’t be rewarded with a House vote.

jayar's Opinion
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11/13/2019
They should get the exact same benefits as male veterans, no more, no less.
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Joan's Opinion
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11/12/2019
Sounds like congress could do better because both sides need to contribute more actions in the bill.
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JTJ's Opinion
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12/28/2019
Democrats demand equality and want women in the military. Then they demand the taxpayers pay for the extra medical expenses that women require. No.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3224?

This bill would increase women veterans’ access to Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care, such as the availability of gender-specific primary care services, PTSD counseling, expanded healthcare for newborns, and more. A breakdown of the bill’s various provisions can be found below.

Specifically, this bill would: 

  • Expand gender-specific primary care services for female veterans and ensure that they’re available at every VA medical center and community-based outpatient clinic;
  • Expand military sexual trauma counseling to members of the Reserve and National Guard;
  • Expand and make permanent a VA pilot program providing counseling in retreat settings to veterans and their families coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other wounds of war. 
  • Increase the amount of healthcare provided to newborn children;
  • Pay for newborn children’s emergency transportation to receive neonatal care;
  • Establish at least $20 million in grants for organizations focused on providing assistance to women veterans and their families; 
  • Require the VA Secretary to carry out a program to assist veterans who have experienced, or are experiencing, intimate partner violence or sexual assault and a program to help such servicememberse access VA benefits; 
  • Establish a partnership between the VA Secretary and at least one nongovernmental organization to provide legal services to women veterans.

It would also require the VA Secretary to conduct a study to assess extended hours of care. The study would investigate:

  • Extended hours as a means of reducing barriers to care;
  • The need for extended hours, based on interviews with women veterans and employees; and
  • Best practices for and resources required to implement extended hours.

This bill would also require the VA Secretary to establish a comprehensive policy to end harassment and sexual assault, including gender-based harassment, at VA facilities. The VA Secretary would also be required to conduct a study of barriers to VA health care for women veterans. Additionally, the VA Secretary would be required to publish a report regarding veterans who receive benefits, including through the Transition Assistance Program, identifying any disparities in the use of benefits, analyzing the causes of any disparities identified, and proposing recommendations to address disparities identified. 

Finally, the VA Secretary would be required to conduct a national baseline study on sexual assault and intimate partner violence among veterans, their spouses, and their intimate partners. This would include establishing a national task force, in consultation with the Attorney General and Secretary of Health and Human Services, to develop comprehensive national programs that include integrating VA facilities. The task force would consult with representatives from at least three national organizations and at least three state coalitions to: review existing VA policies, develop a national program to address intimate partner violence, make recommendations regarding the feasibility of providing direct services for veterans in response to sexual assault, and more.

Impact

Veterans; women veterans; VA; VA services for women veterans; non-governmental organizations that serve women veterans; VA medical centers; VA Secretary; and HHS Secretary.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3224

$322.00 Million
The CBO estimates that this bill would cost $322 million over the 2020-2024 period.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee task force on women veterans, introduced this bill to address inequities and barriers women veterans face when attempting to access VA care and benefits. After this bill passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Rep. Brownley said: 

“Currently, women veterans comprise the fastest growing demographic within the veteran community, yet their invaluable service is often overlooked and forgotten, leading these women to feel invisible. The Deborah Sampson Act recognizes and honors women veterans by ensuring inclusivity and equitable access to resources, benefits, and services… The Deborah Sampson Act will build on the work that Congress has done since our nation’s founding to recognize women in the military. Our women veterans deserve nothing less. By moving this bill forward, we can send the message to America’s women veterans that ‘we see you, and we thank you for your selfless service.’”

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA) adds

“I fully support Congresswoman Brownley’s bill- a culmination of her work and leadership under this Committee’s Women Veterans Task Force. Deborah Sampson was one of the first women to earn a full military pension after she disguised herself as a man and served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. The Deborah Sampson Act honors the tradition of women’s military service by expanding and improving VA’s healthcare and benefits specifically for women veterans.”

While military sexual trauma (MST) and sexual harassment in VA facilities are often considered nonpartisan issues in Congress, this bill’s October 29 hearing led to Republican members walking out. When Republican lawmakers attempted to add amendments to this bill, including one related to gun rights for veterans, Rep. Takano decried their amendments as “partisan” and “toxic” and stopped debate. This led to Repbulican lawmakers walking out. 

Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) said the walkout was a direct response to Rep. Takano stopping debate

"I've been here 11 years in this committee which is the most bipartisan committee in Congress. We took pride in that. I have never seen this type of behavior since I have been here in this committee. We've never suppressed the debate. We've always allowed the debate. ... That's how our country works ... I'm embarrassed by what this committee has become." 

Rep. Nel Dunn (R-FL) linked the conflict to partisan fights over impeachment proceedings. He concluded, “[t]he rule of law is leaving the House.”

Afterward, Rep. Takano said in a statement

“Instead of bringing forth meaningful, productive additions to legislation that will improve the lives of women veterans, they added toxic, partisan amendments — none of which worked to address how women veterans receive care."

In a tweet after the walkout, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Today’s poison amendments and GOP walkout are a shame.”

This legislation passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by voice vote with the support of 29 bipartisan cosponsors, including 28 Democrats and one Republican.


Of NoteAlthough women have served in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War and are currently the fastest-growing demographic in both the military and veteran populations, they are still often treated as second-class servicemembers and veterans. Deficiencies in the VA’s basic care offerings for women veterans (for example, the VA doesn't offer mammography) are symptomatic of this problem. 

The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Women Veterans Task Force has identified systemic deficiencies for women veterans seeking health care through the VA, including:

  • Longer wait times;
  • Sexual harassment by fellow veterans;
  • Staffing shortages; and
  • Facilities that don’t meet basic environment-of-care standards.

This legislation is named after Deborah Sampson Gannett, a Revolutionary war veteran who served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. She was awarded a full military pension for her service.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / SDI Productions)

AKA

Deborah Sampson Act

Official Title

To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for increased access to Department of Veterans Affairs medical care for women veterans.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house Passed November 12th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 399 Yea / 11 Nay
      house Committees
      Health
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedJune 12th, 2019

Log in or create an account to see how your Reps voted!
    Yes, VA services should serve the needs of all veterans equitably. Women’s medical needs are, in many instances, different than the medical needs of men. Those needs should be fully accommodated as should be the special needs of any veteran.
    Like (75)
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    They should get the exact same benefits as male veterans, no more, no less.
    Like (27)
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    Female veterans and service members should have medical care that is appropriate to the needs of women. I can't believe this is even a question.
    Like (54)
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    There is a well known complication for women in the military Military Sexual Trauma! These women are affected for the rest of their lives! They deserve to have expanded support and resources!
    Like (46)
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    Yes, women have different needs for many medical services. They should be supported as their male counterparts are. But as I write this, I am reminded that we really need to improve the service access and delivery for all of our military. Again, let’s solve the whole problem.
    Like (14)
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    Stop sending them if you’re not taking care of them
    Like (13)
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    Male and female soldiers should receive medical attention appropriate to them. Men don’t have babies, so clearly the medical care cannot be equivalent.
    Like (12)
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    They should be of equal services to all parties.
    Like (12)
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    We should honor our veterans and this who serve .
    Like (10)
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    Are women service people are every bit as valuable as the man and should be treated equally
    Like (10)
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    The problem is the bad care provided all our service members by the VA! It’s obvious that gender needs are different and must be tailored accordingly.
    Like (9)
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    I believe this is a good bill and is goung to provied help to our amazing vets
    Like (7)
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    Yes, women veterans have an added reason for PTSD and that is probable sexual harassment or even assault. A woman in the military, or any historical male career, has to be exceptional in her field.
    Like (7)
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    Sounds like congress could do better because both sides need to contribute more actions in the bill.
    Like (6)
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    Regardless of how this bill was brought to a vote is it a good and necessary bill. Republicans need to get behind the bill and not penalize veterans because of the process. They are two separate issues and veterans shouldn't be put in the middle of partisan squabbles.
    Like (6)
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    A veteran is a veteran.
    Like (6)
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    Thank you for this vote!
    Like (6)
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    Our active service and veterans deserve the best medical and behavioral health service available. They’ve earned it. Thank you Congresswomen Lesko for supporting our vets and active service women and men.
    Like (5)
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    One wonders why we are not currently doing this. The Republicans say things are being rammed through the committee but forget that is the same way they treated the Democrats when the Republicans had the majority. Hope they are not objecting to this because it affects women who are serving or have served in the military.
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    Yes, women in the military need this. To oppose this bill, as Republicans are proposing, because they don’t have control of the process is childish.
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