Legislation would improve access to care for women veterans

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MICHIGAN -- U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, today announced he is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide better access to services to help meet the unique health care needs of women veterans.

The Deborah Sampson Act, named for a woman who disguised herself to serve in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, would improve access to specialized services, like maternity and newborn care. According to the VA, there are approximately 2 million women veterans across the country, including more than 46,000 in Michigan.

“As the number of women veterans continues to grow, we must ensure that they are able to access the care and services they have earned by serving our country in uniform,” said Senator Peters. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that improves support services and eliminates barriers to health care so we can ensure that the women who have served this country have equal access to the benefits they earned and can smoothly transition to civilian life.”

The Deborah Simpson Act would improve access to support services, including counseling and legal support for issues such as housing, eviction and child support issues. The bill also improves health care for women veterans by requiring every VA facility to have at least one women’s health primary care provider on staff, authorizing funding to retrofit VA facilities to enhance privacy and provide a better care environment, and expanding coverage for specialized services including maternity and newborn care.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, Senator Peters is a strong voice for Michigan’s veterans. Peters is also a member of the Post-9/11 Caucus, which works to understand the unique needs of more recent veterans, which includes historically large numbers of women.

Last year, President Obama signed into law Peters’ bipartisan Fairness for Veterans amendment that helps veterans with a bad paper discharge resulting from behavior caused by PTSD to petition for an upgrade in their discharge status. An upgrade to an honorable discharge would help certain veterans access benefits earned through their service like VA home loans and educational benefits provided by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.


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