Congressman Anthony Brindisi’s H.R. 2972 passed the House of Representatives as part of the landmark U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reform package The Deborah Sampson Act. Brindisi’s bill statutorily requires VA’s Women Veterans Call Center to be accessible via text and creates an online, one-stop-shop for women Veterans’ benefits. The bill is just one part of a modernization effort to improve accessibility and efficiency at the VA for women Veterans.
“Women are the fastest growing demographic of Veterans and we need to make sure the VA is equipped to handle their specific needs,” Brindisi, a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said. “Increasing efficiency, reliability, and accessibility at the VA will help make sure every Veteran gets the care and benefits they earned. I am hopeful this common-sense bill, supported by Democrats and Republicans in the House, can get through the Senate and to the President’s desk. Our women Veterans deserve it.”
The Brindisi-backed legislation received praise from local Veterans.
“While it’s amazing that it takes a Congressional bill to force the VA to serve the needs of women, I’m thankful Congressman Brindisi is aware of the rapidly changing ‘face of the military,’” said New Hartford Air Force Veteran Shirley Eadline. “This legislation addresses the increased numbers and needs of a younger generation of women who stepped forward when America asked for volunteers. While old institutions change slowly, this legislation allows woman Veterans to reach out to the VA using a method that may be less emotionally traumatic and to be provided the care that is appropriate for them. Congressman Brindisi is helping to make the VA more accessible and responsive to the needs of a younger more diverse Veteran population.”
“I’m heartened by Congressman Brindisi’s bill, as well as his overall sensitivity to the special challenges that women Veterans like me face in the VA’s male-oriented culture,” said Chenango County Army Veteran Patricia A. Paquette. “With this bill’s passage, I am hopeful that the VA will be more responsive to the needs of women Veterans in New York and across the country.”
Because of Brindisi’s leadership, the Deborah Sampson Act, will require the Women Veterans Call Center to be available via text. Also, the legislation requires the VA to create a centralized page in which women Veterans can access gender-specific information, pages, and resources throughout the VA system. This page will include locations of medical centers, CBOC’s and contact information for women’s health coordinators. This webpage will be updated at least every 90 days.
In addition to Brindisi’s provisions, the Deborah Sampson Act will:
- Empower women Veterans by expanding group counseling for Veterans and their family members and call centers for women Veterans.
- Improve the quality of care for infant children of women Veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide.
- Eliminate barriers to care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers in VA facilities, training clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women Veterans.
- Authorize additional grants for organizations supporting low-income women Veterans and increases resources for homeless women and their families.
- Improve the collection and analysis of data regarding women Veterans and require the VA to report on the availability of prosthetics made for women Veterans.