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.