Four Congresswomen have wasted no time in standing up to fight for the needs of women Veterans and active service people. Improving women vets’ mental health support rates high in the list of caucus goals.
The Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus (SWWV) was announced on May 15. The caucus is chaired by Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) (pictured upper left), with Vice-Chairs Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Elaine Luria (D-VA), and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ). 51 women and men are members.
Houlahan, an Air Force Veteran, an engineer and entrepreneur, proclaimed in a press release:
“We four women will lead from our lived experiences serving this country and are flanked by men and women, Republicans and Democrats. We have a mission to serve the women who are and have served this country. Our marching orders are set, and we will not stop until we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do.”
Gabbard urged far greater attention to supporting the “increasing numbers of women in the military,” the fastest growing group in the services. In 1973, just 2 percent of the enlisted forces and 8 percent of the officer corps were women, according to the release. Today those numbers are 16% and 18% and rising.
Gabbard served in the Army National Guard for over 16 years, deployed twice to the Middle East, and still serves as a Major today.
Caucus Vice-Chair Sherrill has also been a strong Congressional advocate for addressing the opioid epidemic. On May 1 she introduced a bipartisan bill to provide $5 billion in funding to states fighting the crisis.
The Caucus holds that gender specific support for women in service and as Veterans is sorely lacking.
It states: “Women veterans are just as likely to experience emotionally traumatic or distressing experiences while serving and one in five servicewomen seen by Veterans Health Administration disclose they have experienced Military Sexual Trauma.”
Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), shows the suicide rate for women Veterans is almost twice that for civilian women.
Strive Health and our sister company, Veteran & First Responder Healthcare (VFR), extend a strong welcome to this much-needed initiative.
This month, May, is Mental Health Awareness Month. Strive, and our sister company Veteran & First Responder Healthcare, are dedicating our Facebook, blogs and other social media channels to highlight the meaning and the practice of Mental Health Awareness. While at Strive our focus is on treating substance use, overwhelmingly trauma and its resulting mental health issues are at the root of the disease. And they are–both mental health issues and Substance Use Disorder (SUD), a disease and not a choice.