House Passes Deborah Sampson Act, Including Rep. Delgado’s Bill to Improve Benefits for Underserved Veterans

November 13, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – In honor of Veterans Day, this evening, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Delgado-backed Deborah Sampson Act, comprehensive legislation to address the medical care of women veterans. This legislation would increase the number of gender-specific providers in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, enhance privacy for women veterans within VA facilities, establish the Office of Women’s Health at the VA, and improve the quality of care for infant children of women veterans, among other things. Included in the Deborah Sampson Act is Representative Antonio Delgado’s (NY-19) Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act. Rep. Delgado’s bill directs the Secretary of the VA to publish a report on veterans’ benefits being received disaggregated by sex and minority group member status. This report would provide the VA and Congress with the data necessary to identify disparities in coverage and benefit usage amongst those groups.

“During last week’s in-district workweek, I focused on veteran issues and highlighted the resources and organizations across upstate New York that work to serve and support our veterans during their transition from service to civilian life. Too many of our veterans are being underserved, in part because not enough effort is being made at the federal level to better understand the gaps in service.” Delgado continued, “I introduced the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act to address this problem by directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to publish a report on veterans’ benefits received disaggregated by sex and minority group member status, which will help to promote inclusivity and equitable access to resources, benefits, and health care. I’m pleased to see the Deborah Sampson Act, which includes my legislation, pass the House with broad bipartisan support. I urge the Senate to take up this legislation as soon as possible.”

“The Deborah Sampson Act is a result of several hearings, roundtables, site visits, and meetings with women veterans across the country to identify opportunities and barriers they face and will address many of the inequities and barriers that the Women Veterans Task Force has identified,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley, Chairwoman of the Women Veterans Task Force. “I thank Rep. Delgado for his leadership on this issue. I look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that we are supporting and honoring women veterans and transforming VA so that all of our nation’s veterans receive the benefits and services they have earned and deserve.”

Women have served in every American conflict since the Revolutionary War; among them, Deborah Sampson and Margaret Corbin, were the first American women known to have served in combat. In the early 1800s, Congress granted both women veterans’ pensions for their service. Today, women veterans are the fastest-growing demographic in both the military and veteran population, with over two million women veterans in the United States. Despite centuries of honorable service and constant, steady growth in the veteran population, women who serve our country are still often treated as second-class servicemembers and veterans. A visible minority in the military, women too often are made to feel like they do not belong. Worse, the VA health care system remains rife with barriers to basic care, like mammography and gender-specific services. The Deborah Sampson Act aims to fix that and create equitable access to health care, housing, legal services, and other resources and benefits for these veterans.

This past week, Rep. Delgado traveled the district focused on the needs and priorities of the more than 40,000 veterans in NY-19. This summer, Rep. Delgado introduced the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act, and last month he testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs urging bipartisan support for this legislation.

A full copy of the Deborah Sampson Act is available here and a section-by-section summary is available here.