This has been a busy summer. As
Vietnam Veterans of America's representative on the VA Women
Veterans Advisory Committee, I can report that the committee's
biennial 2002 report was submitted to the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs in June and is presently being reviewed for response.
In late August, I was appointed by the Secretary to serve as
Chair of the Advisory Committee.
The members of the committee are a
diverse group of hard-working advocates, varied in geographic
location, gender, military experience and former rank, including
both enlisted and officers. We follow in the footsteps of many
fine veterans, both women and men, who have served on the
committee since its establishment in 1983. We meet three times a
year, including one site visit. The Advisory Committee traveled
to Tampa for a site visit at the VA facilities in September.
I was asked to deliver testimony before the House Veterans'
Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Health on topics related to
women veterans' health care in the VA. The topics in my
testimony included: Women Veterans Coordinators, the Women
Veterans Health Program Office, the status and importance of the
Advisory Committee's biennial reports, Women Veteran Health
Clinics, the Homeless Women Veterans Pilot Programs, and renewal
of VA eligibility criteria for access to sexual trauma
As a member
of the Advisory Committee, I also was asked to serve in a
consultant, non-voting capacity on the newly formed VA Homeless
Veteran Advisory Committee. The first meeting was held in
Washington in June. I attended the 15th annual Stand-down in San
Diego and the Homeless Veterans Conference sponsored by the
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans that followed. Sandy
Miller, Chair of VVA's Homeless Veteran Task Force and Vice
Chair of the Women Veterans Committee, was also at this event.
We met several times with the women veteran participants. We
discussed their needs in the local VA health and benefit
We were able
to resolve some issues for several women on site. In early
September, we met with the women veteran participants at the
I want to
thank Dr. Patricia Hayes, Women Veterans Program Director,
VISN-4, for attending and presenting at our Leadership
Conference in August. Dr. Hayes joined with Len Selfon in a
seminar addressing sexual and personal trauma as it relates to
the clinical setting and in regard to benefits.
congratulations to Women In Military Service for America (WIMSA)
on celebrating its 5th Anniversary. Additionally, we look
forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Wall
with many of our sister veterans from across the country.
Veterans Day 2003 is approaching, and plans are being made for
the 10th Anniversary of the Vietnam Womens Memorial. I will keep
you updated as these plans develop.