BREAKING: Senate Unanimously Passes Tester’s Historic Bill to Support Women Veterans in End-of-Year Veterans’ Package

(U.S. Senate) – The Senate unanimously passed provisions from 12 Tester-backed bills as part of an end-of-year veterans’ package—including his historic legislation to address the needs of women veterans across the country.

As the only member of the Montana delegation to serve on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tester has been a longtime champion for improving services and access to care for women veterans at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Last year, Tester reintroduced his landmark Deborah Sampson Act alongside Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.), and worked with both chambers to secure provisions providing coverage and services to veteran survivors of military sexual trauma (MST).

“This is a groundbreaking moment as we push VA to provide better access to care and services for the nearly two million women veterans across the country,” said Ranking Member Tester. “Women have served in uniform since the American Revolution and are now the fastest growing population of veterans in the country. It’s our responsibility to make sure VA health care and benefits are tailored to meet their needs and are accessible to them and their families. Unanimous passage of my Deborah Sampson Act—and of the entire legislative package—sends a clear message that Congress is willing to come together to do what’s necessary and follow through on our responsibility to support all veterans.”

“VA facilities need to be updated to accommodate the growing number of women veterans so we can meet their needs. Ensuring the VA has the capability to provide more equitable care and services is key to fulfilling our promise. Passage of this bill will enable us to better support women who answer the call to serve their nation in uniform,” said Senator Boozman.

“This is an historic step forward for women veterans across the nation, as well as their families, caregivers, and survivors,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “We must provide all veterans the care and benefits they have earned and deserve—which requires providing equity to women veterans. I am so proud that by passing this legislation, we are telling our women veterans: you are not invisible.”

The Deborah Sampson Act includes the following provisions:

  • Creates a dedicated Office of Women’s Health at VA, expands reintegration and readjustment group counseling retreats for women veterans and their family members, and bolsters call center services for women veterans.
  • Eliminates barriers to care by staffing every VA health facility with a dedicated women’s health primary care provider, training clinicians, and retrofitting VA facilities to enhance privacy and improve the environment of care for women veterans.
  • Bolsters supportive services by providing access to legal services for women veterans, expanding child care for veterans receiving VA health care, and requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on VA’s efforts to support homeless or at-risk women veterans.
  • Improves access to care and benefits for survivors of MST by expanding MST counseling to former Guard and Reserve members, allowing VA to treat the physical health conditions of MST, and improving the claims process for MST survivors at the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Tester additionally secured the following provisions to better support veterans in the end-of-year veterans’ package: 

Full text of the end-of-year veterans’ package is available HERE.