Yesterday, the Senate passed S.1407, the military construction and Veterans Administration appropriations bill, which included two amendments submitted by Senator Warner:
- An amendment that directs the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to study how it addresses combat stress in women veterans.
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.
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.
Senator Warner said:
“Our nation’s female military personnel have distinguished themselves, every day, through their tremendous service in Iraq and Afghanistan. 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.
- An amendment that directs the National Science Foundation to study its Defense Access Roads program to help relieve traffic surrounding our military bases.
Right now, the Defense Access Roads (DAR) Program provides little relief to communities impacted by BRAC decisions. The amendment directs the NSF to evaluate the merits of the DAR program and offer suggestions to how Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense can amend the program to make it more helpful in addressing the defense-related transportation impacts on our military bases.
The Fort Belvoir area is one example: growth due to the 2005 BRAC round will severely impact the area by adding up to 46,000 more commuters to the already congest I-95 corridor each day. Marine Corps Base Quantico will receive nearly 3,000 additional military and civilian employees. Fort Lee, south of Richmond, will see its average daily population more than double – from 4,100 people a day to more than 11,000 in 2011.