U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced that he has cosponsored the Women Veterans Access to Quality Care Act, a bipartisan bill to improve Veterans Administration (VA) health care services to better meet the unique needs of women veterans. According to the VA, as of January 2015 there are more than 46,000 women veterans in Michigan, and nearly 2.3 million women veterans nationwide.
“Every veteran has earned access to the best care, and we must ensure that VA facilities and personnel are prepared to provide those services to the growing number of women who have served our country in uniform,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “Women veterans have specific health care needs, and this legislation will help them access the safe, effective and high-quality services they deserve within the VA system.”
The legislation would require the VA to establish and integrate standards in VA health care facilities that focus on the specific needs of women veterans. Every VA medical center would also be required to have full-time obstetricians or gynecologists to provide services for women veterans.
The bill also seeks to improve women’s health outcomes by including them as a performance measure that must be reported by VA executives. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would also be required to study the VA’s ability to meet the health, security and privacy needs of women veterans, including the availability of gynecologists and a women’s health clinic in each VA medical center.
Women are a growing demographic within America’s armed forces, and currently make up 15 percent of the U.S. military’s active duty personnel and 18 percent of National Guard and Reserve forces.
As a former Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve, Senator Peters has been a strong voice in Congress for Michigan’s veterans and service members. Peters recently joined the bipartisan Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, which focuses on understanding how to best serve the 21st century veteran, specifically those that served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn, which includes historically large numbers of women, National Guardsmen and Reservists.
Earlier this month, Peters introduced bipartisan legislation to help veterans who may have been erroneously given an administrative discharge due to behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Peters also cosponsored the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation signed into the law by the President to improve mental health care and suicide prevention programs for veterans.