The Deborah Sampson Act
November 23, 2019
A Bill that Congressman Anthony Brindisi introduced recently unanimously passed the House of Representatives.
Brindisi’s H.R. 2972 passed the House of Representatives as part of the landmark U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reform package called The Deborah Sampson Act.
Brindisi’s Bill statutorily requires VA’s Women Veterans Call Center to be accessible via text and creates an online platform, one-stop-shop for women veterans’ benefits and information specific to women veterans. The Bill is just one part of a modernization effort to improve accessibility and efficiency at the VA for women veterans, according to a news release.
The Deborah Sampson Act will require the Women Veterans Call Center to be available via text messaging. Also, the legislation requires the VA to create a centralized information page in which women veterans can access gender-specific data, pages, and resources throughout the VA system. This page will include locations of VA medical centers, CBOC’s, Vet Centers, Regional Offices and contact information for women’s health coordinators. According to VA officials, the webpage will be updated at least every 90 -110 business days.
In addition to Brindisi’s provisions, the Deborah Sampson Act will:
- Empower women veterans by expanding group counseling for veterans and their family members and call centers for women Veterans.
- Improve the quality of care for infant children of women veterans by increasing the number of days of maternity care VA facilities can provide.
- Eliminate barriers to care by increasing the number of gender-specific providers in VA facilities, training clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women veterans.
- Authorize additional grants for organizations supporting low-income women veterans and increases resources for homeless women and their families.
- Improve the collection and analysis of data regarding women veterans and require the VA to report on the availability of prosthetics made for women veterans.
Veterans Burn Pits Exposure Recognition Act
November 22, 2019
A new Bill introduced to the Senate would establish that some veterans who were exposed to airborne hazards or toxins from burn pits during their military service would have new pathways to care and compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Unfortunately for veterans, the new Bill would not grant benefits or health care to veterans who served near burn pits or create a new category for presumptive disabilities. The new Bill, however, may allow for new pathways for VA benefits and "remove red tape" for veterans' disability claims, according to Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Deputy National Director for Benefits Shane Liermann.
According to DAV officials, if a veteran submits a claim for disability because of exposure in one of the listed areas and times pertaining to the first Gulf War and those who have served since 9/11, the VA may provide them a medical exam to further determine if their illness or disability is the result of burn pit exposure.
Locations and times include:
- Iraq from August 2, 1990 - February 28, 1991;
- Iraq from March 19, 2003 - present;
- The Southwest Asia Theater of operations other than Iraq including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates beginning August 2, 1990 - present;
- Afghanistan from September 11, 2001 - present;
- Djibouti from September 11, 2001 - present;
- Other locations and times established under the Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry or by the VA in collaboration with the Department of Defense (DoD).