Supporting Women Servicemembers and Veterans
Women servicemembers and veterans deserve our recognition, support and respect.
For too long, the contributions and distinct challenges faced by women servicemembers and veterans have been forgotten or ignored. Woman servicemembers are vital to our nation’s defense, and their growing inclusion in all military fields, including combat arms, can only strengthen our military’s readiness. Representation of women in the military has increased to 17 percent, a far cry from the 2 percent representation in 1970. Despite this positive trend, military and veteran institutions and cultures fall desperately short in their support for women servicemembers and veterans. Military sexual trauma continues to plague our armed forces and service academies. Some Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities lack the ability to provide equitable care or services women veterans need, including care for sexual violence. The U.S. must ensure the VA can address the needs of women veterans who struggle to access the benefits they have earned, and continue to face barriers such as homelessness, unemployment, as well as barriers to the medical care they need.
- The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act (H.R. 2709)
The Department of Defense provides health care to over 1.5 million women of reproductive age. The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act will ensure that all women who receive health care through the military are treated the same as civilian women, with access to all FDA-approved methods of contraception and contraceptive counseling services with no co-pay, as well as ensure the military provides servicemembers with comprehensive family planning education, and will codify protections regarding emergency contraception for sexual assault survivors. In the 116th Congress, this legislation passed the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
- Military Child Care Expansion Act (H.R. 3121)
This legislation would equip the Pentagon with new tools and a clear mission to fix the 135 Military Child Development Centers operating in “Poor” or “Failing” condition and eliminate persistent waitlists for child care, which had grown to 9,000 military children with immediate needs, according to the Department of Defense.
- Servicemember Parental Leave Equity Act (H.R. 3122)
New parents need time to bond with their children after birth, adoption, or foster placement; servicemembers are no exception. This legislation modernizes the military’s parental leave policies, will improve the health of mothers and children, and will make the armed services a more welcoming and supportive place for parents, something all Americans understand and that there is strong support for across party lines.