Pennsylvania’s Fab Four Introduce Bill to Provide Legal Services to Women Veterans

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon joined fellow Pennsylvania Congresswomen Susan Wild, Madeleine Dean, and Chrissy Houlahan in introducing a bill to require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide legal assistance to women veterans to help address some of their unique, unmet needs. The bill would require the VA to establish a partnership with an experienced organization that would help women veterans access services such as child care and dental care and assist with legal issues such as child support and eviction and foreclosure.

The Congresswomen are all members of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus, and the bill has the support of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Committee’s Women Veterans Task Force.

“There is no question that the government has a duty and responsibility to take care of our veterans when they return home from sacrificing for our country — but women veterans face unique challenges that the Department of Veterans Affairs isn’t currently equipped to help them with,” Wild said. “My bill would require the VA to establish a partnership with an NGO that is experienced in providing women legal assistance with anything from child care and issues with child support to housing issues such as eviction and foreclosure so we can do more to support women veterans as they transition back to civilian life. The growing ranks of women in our military has made our military stronger, and our country safer — now, it’s our job to make sure they have the support they need when they come home.”

“Despite their vital service and contributions to our national security, women veterans are often overlooked or worse, discriminated against,” Scanlon said. “This bill is an important step in ensuring all of our veterans have access to the benefits they deserve. The Improving Legal Services for Women Veterans Act is an important step in removing the barriers to justice that many women veterans face.”

“Women veterans’ issues are veterans’ issues. It’s as simple as that,” said Houlahan, the Chair and Founder of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus. “We need to do everything in our Congressional power to make sure we’re supporting our women veterans and the unique challenges they face. I’m proud to join Rep. Wild on the Improving Legal Services for Female Veterans Act as we fight for a system that better cares for the women who have bravely served our country.”

“Our female veterans have changed the face of the armed forces. After serving with dedication and valor, they have a right to expect our full support — and that’s what this bill provides. Whether it’s assistance with child care or legal aid to prevent eviction and foreclosure, we intend to stand by our vets — just as they have stood by us,” Dean said.

“We need to do more than simply recognize the specific challenges women veterans face — we need to provide them with the resources to navigate through these unique challenges. That’s why Representative Wild’s legislation is so crucial. By requiring VA to connect women veterans with experienced organizations that handle child support, eviction, and other legal issues, we can ensure our women veterans are supported throughout the process. I’m proud to support this bill to address these crucial needs and connect our women veterans to the resources they have earned and deserve,” said House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano.

“Our women veterans put their lives on the line to defend our nation, and we need to ensure that VA is providing them with the comprehensive services they need as they return to civilian life,” said Rep. Julia Brownley, Chairwoman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Women Veterans Task Force. “This important bill will allow VA to do just that by partnering with organizations to provide women veterans with the legal resources to navigate court systems on a local, state, and federal level. As Chairwoman of the Women Veterans Task Force, I am proud to support this bill, and look forward to continuing to work with Congresswoman Wild to see this bill signed into law.”

The Improving Legal Services for Female Veterans Act would require the VA to partner with at least one NGO to provide legal services, specifically to women veterans. This partnership would focus on the 10 highest unmet needs as described in the recent Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Group for Veterans (CHALENG for Veterans) survey, including child care, dental care, legal assistance for child support issues, and legal assistance to prevent eviction and foreclosure.

Women continue to take on new roles and responsibilities in each branch of the armed services, and according to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, over 345,000 women have deployed since 9/11. Yet, their service and sacrifice are often overlooked. The number of women seeking care at the Department of Veterans Affairs has increased by 80% and female veterans face unique needs. In a recent national survey conducted by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, 78% of respondents believe that addressing issues facing women veterans is extremely or very important.

Cosponsors include U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore (WI-04), Steven Horsford (NV-04), Katie Porter (CA-45), Donna Shalala (FL-27), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Harley Rouda (CA-48), Ed Case (HI-01), David Trone (MD-06), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), TJ Cox (CA-21), Chuy Garcia (IL-04), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Lizzie Fletcher(TX-07), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), and Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02).