April 2000/May 2000
Women Veterans Committee Report
A History of Accomplishment
By Marsha Four, Chair
Vietnam Veterans of America is an organization whose members work for
the care and benefit of veterans. Some of our members have been around for
a long time; others are newcomers to the arena. Not all of our members
know or remember the achievements of the organization or of its specific
Most veterans and veteran advocates aren't aware that much of our
efforts are spent on insuring veteran rights and benefits for all
veterans, not just for those of the Vietnam era. For this reason, the
Women Veterans Committee created a membership development flier that
briefly describes our history, accomplishments, purpose, and goals. As a
leader in moving the agenda of women veterans, the proactive approach of
Vietnam Veterans of America benefits all women who served in the military
regardless of time or place.
The Women Veterans Committee is the voice of those who seek strength
and support in resolving problems and addressing concerns related to all
women veterans. The committee identifies the issues and needs of women
veterans and develops strategies to address and resolve them.
Our goals are accomplished through communication, representation,
advocacy, and outreach. The Women Veterans Committee maintains a watchful
stance as a guardian of equitable care and benefits for women veterans.
The Women Veterans Committee establishes legislative priorities and works
with Congress to secure the passage of responsible and just legislation
that women veterans have earned.
In the spring of 1979, Linda Van Devanter discussed the concerns and
needs of women veterans with many of VVA's founding members. It was then
that VVA made its commitment to women veterans. The Women Veterans
Committee began as the Women Veterans Project that spring. After VVA
amended its Constitution, the Women Veterans Committee became a standing
Women have served this country with great pride in all branches of the
armed forces. The roles of women in the military are varied, diverse, and
expanding. The composition of the VVA national Women Veterans Committee
illustrates this point. Committee members and advisers come from both
enlisted and officer ranks. They served in Vietnam, stateside, and
worldwide with a broad range of duty assignments, occupations, and
experiences. Diversity is the key element.
All women who served invested in the strength of our armed forces and
performed their duties as part of a consolidated effort. They contributed
to the whole. We did our jobs so that no gap existed in the fluid
mechanics of the military machine. We did our jobs so that others could do
The Women Veterans Committee draws upon the experience of its members,
but it is not specifically about how and where we served. It's about who
we are now.
Annually, the VVA Government Affairs Committee develops the National
Legislative Agenda. Each national committee and task force chair is
represented on this committee and assists in the development, compilation,
and advancement of our National Legislative Agenda. The priorities of
women veterans are an integrated component of this document. The Women
Veterans Committee has a voice in this process. It is with pride that I
say we are supported in our cause.
A few proud accomplishments of the committee:
- Members of the Women Veterans Committee pushed for the first Yale
Report on Women Veterans that resulted in the 1982 GAO investigation
of VA services to women veterans.
- VVA was a major force in calling for the first congressional
hearings on women veterans in 1983, which resulted in the passage of
Public Law 98-160 that established the VA Advisory Committee on Women
- VVA testified during congressional oversight hearings (1985-94) that
helped to craft the legislative agenda for improved services to women
veterans in all government agencies.
- VVA Women Veterans Committee presented testimony and helped draft
legislation that resulted in Public Law 102-585, the Veterans Health
Care Act of 1992. Enactment of this law was a landmark victory in the
long struggle for specific health-care programs for women veterans.
The legislation also sought to broaden the context of Post-traumatic
Stress Disorder to include care for the aftermath of sexual trauma
associated with military duty.
- VVA identified the need for a formal process to address the issues
of women veterans. As a result of its efforts, in 1994 legislation was
passed to create the Center for Women Veterans in the Department of
- In 1996 VVA advocated for the extension of sexual trauma treatment.
- The Women Veterans Committee is involved with the VVA Task Force for
Homeless Veterans and supports legislation to establish funds to
assist homeless women veterans.
- VVA actively participated in the process that resulted in the
National Center for PTSD--Women's Health Services Division.
Women veterans have been an integral part of VVA since 1979. We
continue to respond to the needs of all women veterans.