Brindisi fights to increase accessibility and efficiency at the VA for women veterans

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From Anthony Brindisi:

Brindisi Bill to Require Women’s Veteran Line Available Via Text Receives Hearing

Upstate New York Women Veterans Praise Brindisi’s Efforts

Brindisi: Women Veterans Are the Fastest Growing Demographic in the Veteran Community and We Need to Ensure they Have Access to Benefits.

Congressman Anthony Brindisi championed key legislation to increase accessibility and efficiency for women Veterans today during the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee.  

Brindisi’s legislation would statutorily require the Veterans Affairs Women Veterans Call Center to be accessible via text and create a one-stop-shop for women Veterans’ benefits.

Brindisi, a member of the bipartisan Women Veterans Task Force, called on Washington to improve accessibility for women Veterans.

“Women Veterans are the fastest growing demographic in the Veteran community,” Brindisi said. “Women comprise nearly 10 percent of the Veteran population, and that figure is expected to rise to 18 percent over the next twenty years. This bill will build on efforts by VA and this Committee to ensure all women Veterans are aware of the hard-earned resources and benefits available to them and where to turn if they are struggling.”

Local Veterans praised Brindisi’s bill.

“I believe that the bill, HR 2972, presented by Congressmen Brindisi, is a step forward for women Veterans,” said Director of the Oswego County Veterans Service Agency Jamie Hamlin. “Women Veterans at time feel isolated and don’t necessarily feel as though there are ample resources available to them. By creating a service where women Veterans can text the Women Veterans Call Center, accessibility to resources can be at the tips of their fingers. I fully support the Congressman’s bill and appreciate the effort he and his team are making to assist not only women Veterans, but all Veterans.”

“As a woman Veteran I support H.R. 2972,” said COL Joan Marks, United States Army Reserve (retired) of Remsen. “We need to continue to improve how woman Veterans are afforded information and access to specific care in a timely manner. Most important is to ensure these web sites and listed information is continuously updated. Thank you Congressman Brindisi for your continued support for Women Veterans.”

The Women Veterans Call Center is currently available via text, but Brindisi’s legislation would codify that in law. Also, in order to create more efficiency, the legislation requires the VA to create a centralized page in which women Veterans can access gender-specific information, pages, and resources throughout the VA system. This page will include locations of medical centers, CBOC’s and contact information for women’s health coordinators. This webpage will be updated at least every 90 days.

Brindisi’s bill now awaits a full committee hearing. His full remarks before the subcommittee are below:

Thank you, Chair Brownley and Ranking Member Dunn, for the opportunity to speak today about the importance of improving VA services tailored to the needs of women Veterans.

I’d also like to thank the Committee for their continued efforts this year to make VA more accessible and equitable for our women veterans, and for Chairwoman Brownley your leadership of the new Women Veterans Task Force, which I am proud to be a member of.

Women veterans are the fastest growing demographic in the veteran community.

Women comprise nearly 10 percent of the veteran population, and that figure is expected to rise to 18 percent over the next twenty years.

As a result, the number of women veterans seeking care at VA will certainly increase, and VA needs to be ready.

However, 75 percent of women veterans do not use VA healthcare and face a number of inequalities in a system that simply hasn’t adjusted quickly enough to meet their specific needs.

That is why I introduced H.R. 2972, which directs the VA Secretary to improve VA’s communications regarding services available to women Veterans.

While VA has begun to offer text messaging as a way to contact the Women’s Veteran Call Center—and I commend VA for doing so—my bill would statutorily require VA to include a text messaging capability at the Women Veterans Call Center.

The Women Veterans Call Center is staffed by female VA employees who can provide and link women veterans to information regarding resources available to them—and requiring text message capabilities at the call center will make it even more accessible.

Additionally, this bill would make navigating VA websites easier by creating a central web page where women veterans can access various information regarding the extensive resources available to them within VA.

This page would include the locations of each VA Medical Center and Community Based Outpatient Center as well as the name and contact information of each women’s health coordinator, and contact information for staff from the Veterans Benefits Administration and the National Cemetery Administration.

This bill will build on efforts by VA and this Committee to ensure all women veterans are aware of the hard-earned resources and benefits available to them and where to turn if they are struggling.

I believe this bill is a positive step towards making VA more accessible to women Veterans, and I urge the Committee to support this legislation.

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