Press Releases

Warner Amendment Authorizes Study of Diagnosis, Treatment of Military Women with Combated-related Stress

~ Directs VA to examine gender differences in prevalence, treatment ~

Nov 17 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner today successfully amended S.1407, a military construction and veterans appropriations bill, to include language directing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to study how it addresses combat stress in women veterans. A final vote on S.1407 is expected later this afternoon.

The amendment, co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kay Hagan (NC), Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Barbara Boxer (CA), directs the VA to examine the gender differences in the prevalence and diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other combat-related conditions.

“Because of repeated deployments and the randomness of roadside bombs, everyone is, in effect, serving on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Senator Warner said. “But therapists, case workers and patients indicate women veterans often find they must work even harder when they return home to prove they saw combat just to access the benefits they deserve.”

By some estimates as many as 40 percent of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from TBI or PTSD. Last June, the VA reported almost 20,000 female military veterans from both wars have been diagnosed with mental disorders, including nearly 8,500 women diagnosed specifically with PTSD.

“Our nation’s female military personnel have distinguished themselves, every day, through their tremendous service in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Senator Warner said. “However, a female veteran with combat-related stress — often after having been the only woman in her unit, and after serving in a military system that still defines combat as a male-only activity -- appears much more likely to suffer alone, and in silence, once they return home.”

The amendment directs the VA Inspector General to present a work plan and preliminary findings within six months, with final recommendations submitted to the Secretary and appropriate committees of Congress within one year.