Monday, September 10, 2007

An Advocate For The Women Who Serve

Senate Passes Feingold Effort to Look into Mental Health Services for Women Vets

Amendment Comes in Response to Wisconsin Veterans' Concerns Over Insufficient VA Services for Women

September 10, 2007

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Russ Feingold announced today the passage of his initiative to look into how the Veterans Administration (VA) can improve mental health services for women veterans. The Senate included Feingold's amendment authorizing a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study to look into mental health services for women veterans when it passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. After hearing concerns directly from Wisconsin veterans about the issue, Feingold's office contacted the GAO, which noted that a report on women veterans has not been conducted since military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan began. The number of women in the Armed Forces has grown rapidly, as has their exposure to combat. While the VA has taken important steps to establish services for women, there is little data on how VA mental health care funds are being used to address the needs of women.

"We owe it to all of our brave servicemembers to provide them with the best care possible when they return home," Feingold said. "Unfortunately, we have not done enough to ensure that our women veterans are receiving the care they need, particularly when it comes to mental health, even though the number of women servicemembers and veterans continues to grow."

Feingold called for the GAO study after meeting with veterans in Wisconsin this summer in Milwaukee where two veterans raised concerns over services for women veterans. There are rising concerns over insufficient mental health services for women along with inadequate screening of servicemembers returning from combat. Congress has also heard recent testimony from experts who said the VA does not have the capacity to address the needs of women veterans.

"This study should give Congress a better indication of how the VA can more effectively provide these much-needed services for the women of our Armed Forces," Feingold said. "By passing my amendment, the Senate has taken another step toward living up to our obligation to look out for those who serve their country so selflessly."

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