WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues in calling on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities to adequately address the needs of women veterans, especially as the women veteran population continues to grow.
Right now, women comprise nearly 20 percent of serving military personnel and 10 percent of the veteran population, and the women veteran population is projected to grow to 17 percent of the total veteran population by 2040. Unfortunately, as recently reported by the New York Times, women veterans currently face the threat of sexual harassment at VA facilities, and the care needs of women veterans are not being adequately met.
In a letter sent to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, Spanberger and her colleagues called on the VA to prioritize measures to improve treatment of women veterans at VA healthcare facilities. Additionally, the letter urged Wilkie to take necessary steps to prevent sexual harassment at VA facilities.
“We write to request that you implement specific measures to track and prioritize both the cultural and physical transformation within Department of Veterans’ Affairs medical facilities to equitably serve women veterans,” the letter reads. “We are deeply concerned that the VA has failed to keep faith with women veterans, who are the fastest growing population within the veteran community.”
Specifically, the bipartisan signers called on Secretary Wilkie to:
- Make public the VA’s system-wide efforts to combat sexual harassment at VA facilities,
- Ensure every VA facility has a women’s health primary care provider,
- Determine specific measures to invest in and expedite women’s resources and services to increase capacity and reduce barriers to care,
- Create separate priority list of construction upgrades at VA medical facilities to accommodate women veterans,
- Create separate tracking and support for women veterans in the VA homeless support programs,
- Nominate an Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health, and
- Provide reports as to the qualifications of the new head of Center for Women Veterans and resources required by the Center.
The bipartisan letter was led by U.S. Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) and was also co-signed by U.S. Representatives Don Bacon (R-NE-02), Max Rose (D-NY-11), Eleanor Holmes North (D-DC), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL-20), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA-39), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), Jared Golden (D-ME-02), Jason Crow (D-CO-06), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-06), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07), and Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ-02).
Click here to read the full letter.