WASHINGTON – Today, H.R. 3224, the Deborah Sampson Act, passed the United States House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin. This critical legislation addresses long-term biases against female veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). A majority of the provisions contained in the Deborah Sampson Act were cosponsored by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05).
While women have served in the armed forces of the United States since the country’s founding, the services provided to female veterans continue to lag behind those of their male counterparts. Under the Deborah Sampson Act, VA coverage would be expanded to include benefits such as greater data on the availability of mammograms, child care, and housing assistance specifically directed to organizations promoting female veterans.
“On Veterans Day, as we paid tribute to the service of the brave Americans who have worn the uniform of the United States, we did not segregate our gratitude by gender,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. “Female veterans, including the more than 10,000 in Connecticut, should receive equivalent services to that of their male counterparts. After so many years, the Deborah Sampson Act will finally begin to right the scales and provide much needed services for the women who have served us. I am humbled to be a co-sponsor on the majority of the provisions contained in the Deborah Sampson Act and urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass the bill as quickly as possible.”
The Deborah Sampson Act also places a high priority on supporting female survivors of military sexual assault. In 2018, the Department of Defense estimated that 13,500 active-duty female service members experienced sexual assault (almost two-thirds of all reported cases). Under the Deborah Sampson Act, the VA’s delivery of services and benefits for survivors would be streamlined and the Secretary would be required to establish and implement a thorough policy to end sexual assault at all VA facilities.
Rep. Jahana Hayes has been a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year. Currently serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District.