Bills aim to improve services for female vets

By Rick Maze – Army Times Staff writer

Key lawmakers and major veterans groups are stepping up their efforts to improve veterans programs directed at women.

Surrounded by women who were featured in the independent film “Lioness,” a documentary about Army women accompanying combat units in Iraq who ended up in fierce combat, Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., held a press conference March 31 to call attention to gaps in veterans programs for women.

Their bill, S 597, and the one sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., HR 1211, include similar provisions that would improve current programs for female veterans and add new ones.

Among the additions, the Veterans Affairs Department would provide pediatric care for the newborn children of female veterans who received maternity care from the VA; would expand professional training for mental health workers who care for women who suffered sexual trauma while in the service; provide group counseling for female veterans in alternative environments, such as retreats; and provide child care during mental health appointments to make it easier for women to receive help.

This story was contributed by SSGT Langer.


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