December 2000/January 2001
Women Veterans Committee Report
2000 Victories; 2001 Outlook
By Marsha Four, Chair
It is with great pride that I relay news of the presidential signing of
legislation for which Vietnam Veterans of America advocated and testified.
Members of the Women Veterans Committee were privileged to have been a
part of this process when we delivered testimony at several congressional
hearings on behalf of all women veterans.
Women with service-connected mastectomies will receive benefits from
the VA Special Monthly Compensation Award. Additionally, benefits will be
provided to children with birth defects born to women who served in
Vietnam. It is not clear at this time how the VA regulations will be
written, but it has been suggested that benefits may be awarded based not
on diagnosis of specific birth defects, but on the child's level of
independence and cognitive abilities.
The Women Veterans Committee continues to work on the legislative and
regulatory front. Our congressional testimony in 2000 included other
topics, and we will continue to bring attention to these issues. They
Making permanent the provision of VA treatment for personal assault or
sexual trauma. We would like treatment to be provided for personal
assault or sexual trauma that occurs while on nonactive-duty training days
in the National Guard and Selective Reserve.
Continuing to investigate the VA rating schedule for service-connected
mastectomies. We believe a holistic approach is essential for the
appropriate and just consideration of these benefits.
There also have been questions about the dilution of the VA Woman
Veteran Coordinator Program. At this time, an in-house VA team is
addressing the use of these coordinators. We will be anticipating the
report of this group with interest. The establishment of the Woman Veteran
Coordinator Program was a major win, and VVA was at the forefront in the
effort to start this program. The coordinators play a vital role in the
outreach, oversight, and coordination of women veteran services in the VA.
We also are interested in the establishment of a full-time Woman Veteran
Coordinator position in each VA VISN office to coordinate the work of the
Woman Veteran Coordinators in the VISNs.
As all VVA national committees begin to prepare their legislative
priorities for the 107th Congress, the Women Veterans Committee
looks forward to another productive effort. The legislative initiatives
and accomplishments of VVA are far reaching. They affect not only our
members, but all veterans and their families. Our work reaches far into
the entire veteran community, protecting and preserving the rights and
benefits of all who wore the uniform of this great nation.
This year the VA developed a special initiative for homeless women
veterans. Three million dollars was allocated for several demonstration
projects. Eleven VA facilities were selected for the funding. They are
located in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Tampa, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dallas,
Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. These programs will
assist women veterans with and without children. In following the process
of instituting this VA project, it became clear that such special programs
could find themselves in jeopardy unless funding is protected for an
extended period of time. This was the impetus for testimony this committee
gave concerning the protection of special program funds.
The season of celebration, festive gatherings, and traditional
overeating is technically over. Regional conferences will be planned,
travel arrangements will be made, and the 2001 National VVA Convention
will become a reality. For this reason, remember the process and deadlines
for the submission of your amendments and resolutions.
To all of you who have assisted over the past year with the work of the
Committee, we sincerely thank you. On behalf of the entire Committee, I
wish you all a happy and peace-filled New Year.