Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2008
By Rachel Walden — May 7, 2008
Last month, Senator Patty Murray introduced the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2008 (S 2799), “to expand and improve health care services available to women veterans, especially those serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.”
The bill calls for a long-term study of the health of women serving in Iraq, an assessment of barriers for women seeking care at Dept. of Veterans Affairs facilities and of the VA’s provision of health services to women, training of VA staff on treating women veterans who have experienced sexual trauma or PTSD. Although reliable estimates of military sexual assault and PTSD among women veterans are difficult to obtain, some authors have suggested that rate of sexual assault is 30% or higher. It also includes measures that would assist with child care while women are being seen by VA providers, and a requirement for VA medical centers to have a full-time women veterans program manager.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, although it is not clear when the committee will consider the legislation. A companion bill (HR 4107) was introduced in the House last November and was referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
I hate to take shots at any effort to make childcare easier to obtain, but if they are making it available for women vets, shouldn’t it also be available for men? I don’t believe that women or children ultimately benefit from childcare being framed, yet again, as only a woman’s issue.
Trish, that’s an excellent point, and the bill is a bit confusing on that point. One section specifies child care for women receiving maternity services through the VA, but another section talks about a pilot program of child care for “qualified veterans” receiving care through the VA – it doesn’t specify women, but the bill is obviously about women, so I’m not clear on who it would encompass.
I was just wondering how they intend to address the issues in relation to the sexual trauma cases. Many of these women (and men for that matter) may have contracted STDs through these experiences, and as a result, many women will face infertility. But as it stands right now, those women may not be able to access full treatment and/or care for this situation if their only option to have a family is through IVF. IVF is the only treatment for infertility that is not covered by law, but the law sees fit to treat erectile dysfunction and to pay for prosthetics in relation to this male affliction. Are there any proposals made to address this significant inequity in medical care between men and women veterans?