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BY MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR

The Convention will be upon us in a very short while, but the committee continues to work. On May 20 we were invited by Rep. Bob Filner, chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to join in a roundtable discussion called “The Growing Needs of Women Veterans: Is the VA Ready?” There was wide representation that included participants from several VSOs, several VSO auxiliaries, a women’s health research group, several women veteran advocacy groups, the Defense Department Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, and the VA. “Timid” was not the word to describe most at the table.

Issues ranged far and wide, but the message was heard: The VA is not ready. Needs and shortcomings were discussed, including funding for research on sex differences in treatment and care; a clear understanding of the role of today’s military women and recognition by Congress of the combat capacity in which they serve; Women Veteran Program Managers; Military Sexual Trauma (MST) counselors and gender-specific MST residential treatment programs; mental health providers; annual town hall meetings at every medical center; comprehensive primary women’s health care models; best practices and improved models of care and services; ensure that women’s primary care be delivered by a specialist in women’s health; provide clinic hours of operation appropriate to the needs of women veterans; provide proactive oversight and accountability; and base certification programs on those utilized by professional organizations. The open forum extended for over three hours.

On June 3, I testified about homelessness before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Health Care.

 It has been an honor to chair the Women Veterans Committee. I thank once more the members who contribute to the work of the committee.

 

 

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