Women have served in various roles in the U.S. military throughout the nation’s history. The first time men and women were shipped out together during wartime conditions was when the U.S.S. Acadia departed from San Diego for the Persian Gulf on September 5, 1990. Since that time, there have been advancements and setbacks in the involvement of women together with men in training and combat settings. In January 2013, the ban on women serving in combat roles was lifted. That was a huge milestone, but the respect and acceptance of women in the military has not made sufficient progress.
Since the 9/11/2001 attacks, almost 345,000 women have been deployed in U.S. military service. Sweeping reforms for women veterans are currently being sought under the Deborah Sampson Act, which was initiated and co-sponsored by Tulsi Gabbard in March 2017. The bill follows a major scandal in which nude photos of female military personnel were widely shared among hundreds of their active-duty male counterparts. Serious questions were raised about morale and misogyny among members of the military. Sexual abuse and harassment of women in the military are widespread, and adequate medical care for women veterans is sadly lacking.
About the Deborah Sampson Act
Democrat Senator Jon Tester of Montana is the sponsor of Senate Bill 681, which is nicknamed the Deborah Sampson Act and was introduced on March 21, 2017. The bill proposes to amend title 38 of the United States Code, to improve the services and benefits provided to women veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as well as for other purposes. The bill currently has 21 cosponsors, with Senator John Boozman of Arkansas the only Republican.
The bill was named after Deborah Sampson, a hero who joined the American Revolution by disguising herself as a man to serve in the Patriot forces. For two years she served undetected and was honorably discharge. She was the only woman in the Revolutionary army to earn a military pension for her participation in the war. However, her story was much like female veterans today, whose service is overlooked or discounted when returning home from serving with valor and patriotism.
The Act calls for a three-year pilot program to assess the feasibility of peer-to-peer counseling for women veterans, with an emphasis placed on women who are at risk of becoming homeless or who suffered service-related sexual trauma.
In addition, the VA shall:
- Expand newborn care services at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. VA post-delivery care services for women veterans receiving maternity care will be expanded to 14 days.
- Authorize medically-necessary transport, such as ambulances, for newborns to be paid by the medical services account as opposed to through beneficiary travel, as is currently the case.
- Require each VA medical facility to ensure that a primary care provider specializing in women’s health is on staff.
- With a budget of $20 million, VA medical facilities will be retrofitted with materials, fixtures, and outfitting measures. This will give women veterans more privacy when treated at veteran’s hospitals, among other improvements.
- Ensure that every VA medical center has a women veteran manager program, a manager, and an ombudsman.
- Do a better job of tracking women’s health issues by the VA. The VA will analyze, collect, and publish data on each VA benefit or service program and disaggregate such data by minority status and sex.
- Expand the women veterans call center so that text messaging capability is included.
- Provide legal services to women veterans based on their ten highest unmet meets by establishing a partnership with at least one nongovernmental organization.
- Publish a website on the Internet that will serve as a centralized information source for women veterans’ services and benefits.
Funds are being made available, through the bill, for emergency and primary care clinicians’ participation in the women veterans health care mini-residency program and for organizations that focus on giving assistance to women veterans and their families.
Problems in the VA that Call for Reform
Information from Randall Williams, Health Care Director at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), contributed to making the Deborah Sampson Act what it is. Williams signed off on a report which states that women veterans who receive care at VA facilities may not be guaranteed privacy. There is also no guarantee of their safety or dignity. More details from the December 2016 GAO report follow:
- Women veterans lack access to needed gynecological care throughout the network of community-care providers and VA facilities. Research shows that 27% of VA facilities lacked an on-site gynecologist.
- Cases have been reported in which maternity care has been delayed significantly.
- The GOA report also says that many of the examination rooms have no curtains to provide privacy, which violates VA requirements related to the care women veterans are supposed to receive.
The experience of one woman veteran
Kait Hoit is an Army Reserve veteran who had a yearlong deployment in Iraq in 2005. At an event introducing the Deborah Sampson Act, she is one of several women veterans who were present, and she spoke about her experience. She said the treatment she received at a VA hospital fell far short of being welcoming. She and other women spoke of the feeling that they are perceived as inferior to male veterans and that they are not acknowledged as veterans at the VA or elsewhere.
Hoit corroborated some of the GOA’s findings, saying that without a curtain and a secured door during an exam, it’s doubtful a woman will ever return to a veterans’ facility for health-care.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) led efforts in the United States House to sustain veterans today, including passing legislation to reform veterans’ mental health care (HR 918), advising Congress to pass the Deborah Sampson Act (HR 2452), a bill she cosponsored to improve access and also high quality of care at the VA for women veterans, as well as presenting legislation to refurbish the country’s World War I memorials (HR 4328).
Tulsi – a former female combat told that she could share a lot of tales of the courage and sacrifice displayed by the men and women that I had the chance of serving the Middle East deployment. People of all walks of life– various religious beliefs, races, political ideologies, and a lot more– all ready keeping behind all kinds of distinctions and collaborating for one usual goal: service to our nation.
It is this selflessness by our country’s veterans that should inspire all of us this Veterans Day- as well as everyday. They have actually shown us with their instance as well as their lives what “solution and sacrifice” really suggests, and how we can all find ways to establish apart our very own distinctions, respect and also treat each other with aloha, and also interact for the good of our neighborhoods, our nation, as well as mankind.
Female combat veteran Tulsi Gabbard is a Major in the Hawaii Army National Guard as well as has actually served on 2 Middle East assignments. Tulsi Gabbard has actually worked as the United States Representative for Hawaii’s Second Congressional District since 2013 and also is a member of House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Ms. Tulsi asked her colleagues in the House of Representatives to enhance access and quality of look after women veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tulsi asked for assistance for the Deborah Sampson Act. Gabbard says women vets are the armed force’s fastest expanding populace reaching 2.2 million females, but the VA facilities are very less than that what they deserve.
Tulsi Gabbard has long been an advocate for the veterans– striving to guarantee and find a solution for welfare of the military vets, she always emphasizes that the sacrifice should not be neglected at any cost. They should not ignored when they retire and subjected to low privilege once they put down the uniform.
Tulsi Gabbard said, Today we see an enhancing number of female military professionals that are greatly being neglected. The suicide rates amongst the veterans is already devastatingly above then the normal civilians, however for women veterans, the rate jumps to greater than double their male staff. There are currently several services offered by the VA to retired veterans, several of these programs as well as solutions are developed for guys and do not resolve some of the unique demands that women experts should receive.
To resolve this unpleasant practice, Tulsi Gabbard presented the Deborah Sampson Act (HR 2452), supported by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a bipartisan group of House members, to attend to the demands of our growing populace of women veterans with the VA. Military sexual assault, PTSD, being homeless, and also suicide are major problems that all have to challenge and address. Guaranteeing our women veterans get the top quality VA care they’ve earned through their service is a responsibility that we need to accomplish.
Tulsi Gabbard also emphasized – Women veterans are stepping up to lead and continue their service in several ways. Denise Rohan was recently chosen as the initial women commander of the American Legion, and the Disabled American Veterans elected Delphine Metcalf-Foster as their nationwide leader.
The Deborah Sampson Act will enhance the existing assistance systems for female veterans and retrofit VA clinical facilities to make sure women-specific care is always offered.
What others are saying
The reforms being called for in the Deborah Sampson Act are referred to as “commonsense reforms” by the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in support of the bill. Senator Boozman said it’s not about giving a particular group special treatment because the women have earned these rights as veterans.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller spoke during a March 14 Senate hearing, expressing his commitment to making things right for women veterans. Of the scandal and other harassment issues, he said the perversion in the military culture most go and all Marines need to share in a commitment to that end.
“Women veterans have lower rates of access to the VA than men, but face higher rates of post-traumatic stress, military sexual assault, unemployment, and homelessness.”
In discussions about these issues, Allison Jaslow, chief of staff for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, pointed out that more gender-inclusive language could serve to communicate to the public that the military has a growing female veteran population. The motto for the Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, is an Abraham Lincoln quote: “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”
“We have a responsibility to take care of all of our veterans when they return home and to make sure that they are getting the best care and benefits that they have earned and deserve. In recognition of Veterans Day, we must fix this and pass the Deborah Sampson Act to eliminate barriers and improve quality of care and services, and empower our female veterans alongside our male veterans.”
– Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
A good start
The Deborah Sampson Act also co sponsored by Tulsi Gabbard is serving to raise awareness about the serious issues that women in the military face, from sexual harassment during active duty to difficulties taking advantage of veterans’ medical services. Many argue that more aggressive changes are due. Officials with the Service Women’s Action Network called for the Marine Corps to increase recruitment of women, end boot camp gender segregation, and set up a whistle-blower hotline so that Marines can report discrimination and sexism in the ranks. It remains to be seen whether this cultural battle is on course to turn things around for the protection and benefit of women in the military. Getting SB 681 signed into law may be a good step in that direction.
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