Tester Leads Committee Roundtable with VSOs on Improving Care and Benefits for Women Veterans

Chairman and VSOs discussed improving the claims process for survivors of military sexual trauma and changing the culture at VA to better support women veterans’ service and sacrifice

Continuing his efforts to ensure women veterans receive the support they’ve earned, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester hosted a roundtable yesterday with Veterans Service Organizations to discuss improving health care and resources for women veterans. Tester was joined by Committee members, including U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who co-chaired the roundtable with Tester, and representatives from Minority Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Service Women’s Action Network.

“We’ve taken many steps in recent years to strengthen women veterans’ health care and benefits—but our work is far from over,” said Tester.“Women veterans are the fastest growing group in the veteran community, and we need to double down on our efforts to ensure they are receiving the support they need at VA after their service. Today’s roundtable will help us continue to hone in on what our top priorities should be when it comes to addressing the needs of women veterans and survivors of military sexual trauma.”

During the roundtable, advocates from the VSOs discussed issues with the military sexual trauma (MST) claims process and highlighted their support for Tester’s Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act and its potential to make claims process more trauma-informed for survivors.  

The roundtable built off of discussions from a hearing Tester held last month on women veterans, which included a panel of VA officials, a VA Office of Inspector General official, and women veteran advocates. Women veterans are the fastest growing demographic group in the veteran community, and account for more than 11% of the total veteran population. More than 900,000 women veterans are currently enrolled in VA health care and more than 702,000 are receiving VA disability benefits.

A long-time advocate of strengthening support for women veterans, Tester championed the Deborah Sampson Act in 2021 to provide women veterans with better access to VA health care and benefits, and shepherded his MAMMO for Veterans Act into law in 2022 to expand veterans’ access to high-quality breast cancer screenings and lifesaving cancer care.

Continuing his push to improve women veterans’ benefits and care this Congress, Tester reintroduced the bipartisan, bicameral Servicemembers and Veterans Empowerment and Support Act to improve MST survivors’ access to care and benefits and bolster MST claims processing. He also backed the Veteran Families Health Services Act of 2023 to protect veterans and servicemembers’ access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other family-building assistance.


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