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January / February 2008

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WOMEN VETERANS COMMITTEE REPORT
The New Year

BY MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR
The activities of the past few months allowed us to do more outreach and advocacy, and to take pride in ourselves as veterans. A one-page information paper was developed by the committee as an easy resource and reference tool providing answers to frequently asked questions from veterans and advocates. The committee had a strong presence at the tenth anniversary celebration of the Women In Military Service Memorial in early November, including displays with handouts at the Women’s Reunion and the anniversary ceremony.

In addition, we participated in the 25th anniversary parade, marking the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We were in the outreach membership tent, and we placed wreaths. The committee has been able to offer language to be included in testimony for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and provide input to the VA Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans.

Going forward, the committee is in the process of delivering its business plan, developing its budget for the coming year, and providing input to the Government Affairs Committee. The upcoming year will include participating in two large events. The first is the 2008 National Women Veterans Summit scheduled for June 20-22 in Washington, D.C. This summit has been held every four years since 1996. It will incorporate plenary sessions with workshops, a health expo, agency and organizational displays, and a possible town meeting. We are also beginning discussions for our involvement in the 15th anniversary ceremonies of the Vietnam Women Veterans Memorial, scheduled for November 11.

The duties, responsibilities, advocacy, oversight, and reporting of the VA Women Veteran Program Managers, as defined in the VA handbook, are substantial. In the past, we had taken a position and advanced our efforts to ensure that the WVPMs were allotted no less than half time to perform these duties. However, at our last meeting this stance was re-evaluated. We now feel that this extremely valuable position at all Medical Center and VISN locations should be full time. VVA believes that these significant duties and responsibilities are essential and should not be minimized.

The VA has recently created or expanded to full time several other positions that rightly deserve added attention. We applaud the VA for this increased investment. However, in light of the emphasis and full-time status that the VA has recently placed on these other positions, VVA believes it is wrong that the position of Women Veteran Program Manager is not mandated as full time at all VA Medical Centers.

We believe this is critical in coordinating care, outreach, advocacy, and oversight to all women veteran programs. This certainly includes homeless women veterans, who often have no advocates. We also are concerned that GS ratings for Women Veteran Program Managers are not necessarily equivalent at all VA Medical Centers. If they are not and they aren’t comparable to other program manager ratings, a high turnover rate for those working in the VWMP position is almost guaranteed.

 

 

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