A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

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 include:

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.

   

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