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july/august 2007

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Women Veterans COMMITTEE REPORT

BY MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR
Legislatively, it appears that women veterans are going to be included in several bills. Sen. Daniel Akaka’s (D-Hawaii) bill (S1384) addresses domiciliary care for homeless women veterans and the House Veterans’ Affairs staff also is working on language for a bill related to women veterans. There is the possibility that the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee may have a hearing in the next few months on health care that would include women veterans. One conversation we have been having involves the VA women health clinics, many of which serve only as GYN clinics without any specialized women’s health primary care. We also are looking at evaluating the ability to access the clinics at more flexible, appropriate, and feasible times.

The 10th anniversary of the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) memorial is fast approaching. Information on the November 1-3, 2007, event can be found on its web site, and there is a link to it from our committee’s VVA web page. I am working on joining with another party to secure part of a block of rooms for those who are interested in attending this event. As soon as information is available, I will post it on our web site.

It is anticipated that the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be attended by thousands. Many reunions already are planned. It will be a tremendous opportunity to re-connect with people you have not seen in many years, if not since your service time.

I spent the Memorial Day weekend in Washington working in the VVA tent. While there, I spoke with Diane Evans, the President of the Vietnam Women Veterans Memorial Foundation, regarding her hopes to have future conversations with VVA about events that could be considered for November 2008. It will be the 15th anniversary of the Vietnam Women Veterans Memorial dedication.

As we move into our National Convention, I want to thank all the members and liaisons of this committee for their input and assistance over the past two years: Sandy Miller, Sandi Wilson, Bob Maras, John Wallace, Connie Christensen, Billee Culin, Tom Berger, Alta Milling, Judy Ballentine, Linda Schwartz, Dottie Barrickman, Sandra Spatz-Wiszneaucka, Annie Pancrazio, and Elaine Simmons. Thanks also to VVA staff who helped: Tracie Houston, Sharon Hodge, and Susan Edgerton.

They are the ones who represent women veterans from across the country, bringing ideas and concerns to the table. They are the ones who formulate the interests and attentions of the committee and ultimately decide on its direction. Thank you again to Sandy Miller, who served as Vice Chair and was meticulous in keeping the minutes for the committee.

I felt it was important to bring as much information to the committee as possible. For that reason I invited speakers to each of our meetings. I want to thank all the guests who gave of their time to make presentations over the past two years. They include: Linda Bennett, Democratic Staff Director, House Veterans Affairs Committee; Carole Turner, Director, and Regina Mack-Abney, Associate Director, Women’s Health Program Office, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Linda Petty, Officer in Charge, VBA Seamless Transition, Walter Reed Army Hospital; Linda Piquet, Women Veteran Coordinator, Veterans Benefits Administration; Col. Denise Daily, Military Director, DACOWITS; Patricia Hayes, Acting Chief Consultant, Women Veterans Health Strategic Healthcare Group. They provided the committee with an enormous amount of information and also gave us the opportunity to discuss our ideas and concerns. Additionally, the committee has attempted to provide current information on our web page.

I appreciate the opportunity to have served as chair of this committee and as a member of other committees. I have attempted to do the best I could in representing VVA on behalf of women veterans in all my posts. I also thank those who have provided me with support over these last two years.

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