It has been five fast months since the National Convention. Our
committee resolutions were essentially unchanged and passed
without objection. The first part of resolution WV-1-05 in many
respects is an organizational policy. It affirms the gender
equality of VVA in what we do and how we operate. The second
part requires action at several levels of VVA and can be
accomplished by including women veteran information in the
chapter and state council outreach programs. We also work
nationally by encouraging the state Directors of Veterans
Affairs to establish women veteran coordinators.
WV-2-02 requires oversight and vigilance. The committee is able
to remain in contact with the VA Center for Women Veterans, the
Women Veterans Health Program Office, and the VA Advisory
Committee on Women Veterans to stay informed and provide input.
Committee members also have provided resource information to
members pertaining to resources and resolutions to specific
problems or concerns.
In the review
of the handbook used by the VA Women Veterans Program Managers
in the performance of their duties, it is not difficult to
understand why the committee stands firmly by Resolution
WV-4-05. We continue to advocate for this at the national level.
met once in the fall and discussed ideas for presentations at
the 2006 Leadership Conference. This culminated in a submission
to the Leadership Planning Committee. We await the results of
its decision. The committee invited several House Veterans
Affairs’ Committee staff to attend the meeting and discuss
legislation that would have an impact on women veterans. Linda
Bennett of the minority staff on health care provided the
committee with insight on several fronts. Discussions ensued on
the following items:
Sexual Trauma Among the Reserve Components of the Armed
Forces: A study was mandated by Public Law 160-117 to report
to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by 2001. Not having
received it, Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.) requested the report in
the fall of 2005, and one of two pages was provided to Rep.
Michael Michaud (D-Maine). This study, referred to by the VA
as the “Street Study,” was not approved by the VA in its
entirety. It can be downloaded as a complete report on the
Committee page of the VVA web site. The study was
completed in 2003 and sent to OMB but never was published. In
today’s world with the increased number of women
serving, the VA needs to be prepared to address this issue,
not only in the money required to provide treatment, but the
staff needed to deliver it.
Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVRS): More than five
years ago, Congress mandated that the VA replicate the
National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. Research
Triangle Institute was awarded this study, as sole contractor,
to replicate the original one it undertook 20 years ago. RTI
was to return to the same cohort of study participants in
order to reexamine their psychosocial and physical status.
years, VA asked that the study be halted due to a review and
an audit by the Inspector General Office. That report is quite
telling. However, it is important that this study be conducted
to satisfy its intent as a longitudinal study. It is the only
one to include both women and minorities. To substitute “The
Twin Study” in its stead, which is being considered by the VA,
is unacceptable, and it would fail to fulfill the
congressional requirement of Public Law 106-419, Veterans
Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000. This
committee is working in conjunction with the Veterans Health
Committee and the PTSD Committee on our approach to the
completion of this study. For more information, go to:
3. S 1182 and
HR 4046: We will keep an eye on these two bills. Several
sections relate to women veterans. One provides for 14 days
post-natal care to infants born to women veterans who have
used the VA for pregnancy care.
has been watching recent DoD action that would develop a sexual
trauma database in which specific victim and perpetrator
identifiers would be collected. It was reported that DoD
received over 6,000 responses to this suggested database. VVA’s
Women Veterans Committee, through the Government Relations
Department, has drafted a letter to the Secretary of the Army
expressing our concerns about the development of the database.
the Director of the VA Women’s Health Program Office, was a
guest at our January meeting. She discussed the recently formed
women veterans’ mental health committee. She also had updates on
initiatives and the Women Veteran Program Managers.