WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan announced the passage of her Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act, which will soon go to the President’s desk for signature. Representative Houlahan introduced this bipartisan legislation with Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Gil Cisneros (D-CA). The bill requires the Defense Department to encourage servicewomen who are separating from the Armed Forces to participate in the Women’s Health Transition Training pilot program of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This pilot program is specifically geared towards helping women transitioning from the military learn about health care at the VA, employment opportunities, and other services available to help with their successful transition to civilian life.
“In 2019, we set a record for the highest number of women veterans serving in Congress,” said Houlahan. “Together, on a bipartisan basis, we are standing up for our brave servicewomen. This legislation continues our commitment to the fastest growing cohort in our veteran community – women. When I separated from the Air Force, I had little to no knowledge about the services offered by the VA. We owe these women the support they need as they transition from their active duty to veteran status. This bill, through its promotion of the VA’s Women’s Health Transition Assistance pilot program, does exactly that. In the military, we promised to leave no one behind. I will forever continue to honor that promise.”
“Many servicewomen face unique issues related to their transition to civilian life that go unaddressed,” said Rep. Cisneros. “I’m glad the NDAA includes our legislation to help ensure transitioning servicewomen are aware of the health services available to them, including eligibility for gender-specific services and mental health programs. We need to make it easier for our servicemembers to receive the care they need and deserve, and I’ll continue to work with Representatives Houlahan and Stefanik to ensure our government is committed to serving those who have served us.”
“Protect Our Defenders stands by Representative Houlahan's very important piece of legislation that will go towards helping women leaving the service get the health information they will need in order to maximize the benefits that they are entitled to, and live healthy and productive lives post-service,” said Adelaide Kahn, Director of Programs and Policy, Protect Our Defenders. “Time and again we work with women veterans who do not know about some of the programs and services at VA, and are daunted at the thought of trying to learn that information on their own. We believe that the Health Transition Training pilot program will set women veterans up for success going forward, and will ensure that those entitled to benefits and programs will have access to them.”
“Servicewomen now can learn about the superb, comprehensive women’s healthcare available to them at VA as they are leaving active duty,” said Lory Manning, Captain, USN, (ret.), Director Government Operations, Service Women’s Action Network. “They’ve earned that care and thanks to the Servicewomen’s Health Transition Training Act they can access it as they transition to civilian life. The Servicewomen’s Action Network salutes Congresswoman Houlahan and her colleagues for their leadership in making this needed training a reality.”
“IAVA has long been a staunch advocate for women veterans, having launched our ‘She Who Borne the Battle campaign in 2017,” said Jeremy Butler, CEO, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). “Data shows that women veterans, on average, do not seek support from the Veteran Health Administration until 2.7 years after leaving the service, or until mental or physical health issues have manifested. The Women’s Health Transition Training program is a proven and effective way to provide servicewomen with a deeper understanding of the women’s health services within the VA health care system so that they may receive the care that they have earned. IAVA commends Congresswoman Houlahan for her leadership in pushing this valuable legislation over the finish line.”
“The Women Veterans Community applauds the outstanding work of Representative Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania for introducing this bipartisan House Resolution Bill piloting the Women's Health Transition Training Pilot Program,” said Deborah Harmon-Pugh, National Campaign Chair, Women Veterans ROCK! & Chair of The Women Veterans 2020 Delegation. “The early success of this women's health pilot program has already established itself as a great resource and another important benefit for today's transitioning military servicewomen.”
Full text of the bill can be found here.
The pilot program is presented by a woman veteran currently receiving health care at the VA. Of the 670 women who have participated, 99 percent would recommend the course to others and 80 percent have agreed to post-course follow-up. Post-course survey data indicate a 126 percent improvement in awareness among participants of women’s health services at the VHA. Further, there was an increase of 30 percent in intent to enroll in the VA, an increase of 39 percent in likeliness to use VA health care services, and an increase of 17 percent in intent to use VA suicide prevention services, if needed. As of October 2019, participant enrollment rate in Veterans Affairs was 114 percent higher than the national average enrollment rate for women Veterans from the previous year. Participants are also enrolling in VA faster, at a median of 10 days after separation from the military – this is a 67 percent decrease in median enrollment time compared to the previous year.
Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She’s in her first term representing Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee.