Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-CA), Chair of the Women Veterans Task Force, hosted the Task Force’s first virtual roundtable. Members of the Women Veterans Task Force heard from VA, veteran service organizations, community organizations, and academia on a wide range of issues impacting the lives and mental health of women veterans. The topics discussed during the roundtable included women veterans’ outcomes, overall experience using VA, peer support, suicide reduction and prevention, and community-based solutions, including the VA response to COVID-19.
“Women veterans are more likely to experience multiple forms of trauma throughout their lives, before, during, and after service. These include intimate partner violence and military sexual trauma. The high experiences of trauma, isolation, and associated mental health conditions raise the risk of suicide,” said Women Veterans Task Force Chairwoman Julia Brownley. “Women are not only the fastest growing cohort of veterans, but they are more than twice as likely to die by suicide than women who never served. Times of crisis, such as global pandemics, exacerbate many of these challenges, including inequities in systems of support. Eliminating barriers to care is my top priority as chair of the Women Veterans Task Force.”
“Thank you Chairwoman Brownley for holding this critical bipartisan virtual roundtable–your continued leadership is vital to the Committees’ success in demonstrating that Congress can work remotely, maintain safe social distancing, and continue to advocate for women veterans,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Mark Takano. “Addressing veteran suicide is our number one priority, and it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased uncertainty, stress and anxiety for many veterans. For women veterans who are already more than twice as likely to die by suicide than non-veteran women, this is especially concerning. We need to bring women veterans’ mental health to the forefront during this pandemic and continue to promote connectedness—I’m grateful that today’s virtual roundtable can do just that.”
The roundtable featured:
- Dr. Patty Hayes, Chief Consultant, Office of Women’s Health – Veterans Health Administration
- Dr. Elizabeth Yano, Director, VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation – Veterans Health Administration
- Dr. Susan McCutcheon, National Mental Health Director, Family Services, Women’s Mental Health, and Military Sexual Trauma – Veterans Health Administration
- Dr. LeeAnn E. Bruce, National Intimate Partner Violence Program Manager – Veterans Health Administration
- Ms. Tammy Barlet, Associate Director, National Legislative Service – Veterans of Foreign Wars
- Mrs. Maureen Elias, Associate Legislative Director – Paralyzed Veterans of America
- Ms. Stephanie Gattas, Chair, Wellness Policy Committee – Military Women’s Coalition
- Ms. Kaitlynne Hetrick, Associate, Government Affairs – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
- Ms. Joy Ilem, National Legislative Director – Disabled American Veterans
- Ms. Jennifer Silva, Chief Policy Officer – Wounded Warrior Project
- Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, Author, Researcher, Faculty – George Mason University Department of Global and Community Health
In addition, Minority Veterans of America provided a written statement.