Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved Congresswoman Julia Brownley’s Building Supportive Networks for Women Veterans Act (H.R. 91).

“The VA needs to adapt to the complex and changing needs of our veterans, and that means ensuring there are specific programs and resources to support the growing population of women veterans,” said Rep. Brownley. “My bill will ensure that the VA’s highly successful women veteran’s retreat program continues and is expanded nation-wide. This pilot program has proven to be effective in creating strong support communities for women veterans in helping them cope with the invisible wounds of war.”

The Building Supportive Networks for Women Veterans Act (H.R. 91) would permanently authorize an existing U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pilot program that offers counseling and support retreat programs for women veterans who have recently separated from the military. Under this program, a total of 12 retreats were provided to hundreds of women veterans between 2011 and 2016, focusing on building trust and developing peer support in a therapeutic environment.

Data from the VA has shown that many women who participated in these retreats have shown a significant decrease in stress and symptoms of PTSD, better coping mechanisms, and better overall psychological well-being. Eighty-Seven percent of participants scored higher on the Ryff Scale of Psychological Well Being immediately post-retreat, and eighty-four percent of participants showed a decrease in stress symptoms two months after their retreat.

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