Mental Health

published : 2023-09-29

Female Combat Veterans Left in the Cold by Loophole as Women Senators Step In

Over 300 female veterans served alongside special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan

A photo of female combat veterans standing together, displaying their strength and unity (taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV).

A bipartisan group of women senators has penned a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, urging them to give hundreds of female combat veterans access to vital benefits.

Led by Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., the lawmakers argue that these heroic women, who served alongside special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, faced the same life-threatening dangers as other combat veterans.

About 310 women veterans deployed and served before female service members were formally allowed to serve in combat roles. Instead, they served as part of cultural support teams tasked with outreach to Iraq and Afghanistan's female populations.

Many of these service members accompanied their male counterparts on missions and sustained injuries that they have not been fairly compensated for due to the lack of recognition of their combat service.

A candid photo capturing a special operations forces team in action during a mission in Iraq (taken with a Nikon D850).

The letter highlights that these female veterans have been turned away by the VA and struggle to convince clinicians that their injuries, such as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and disabling physical trauma, are combat-related.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a combat veteran herself, joins in sending the letter, emphasizing the importance of accurate military records and ensuring that all service members and veterans receive the care and benefits they earned.

This bipartisan effort follows the introduction of the 'Jax Act' legislation by Sen. Rosen to mandate recognition of combat service and access to combat benefits for female veterans.

The lawmakers urge both the Defense Department and VA to review personnel records and denied disability claims, rectify this issue, and properly recognize and compensate these female combat veterans for their service.

An emotional image of a female veteran receiving recognition and benefits for her combat-related injuries (taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III).

A U.S. Defense official states that the department will respond accordingly once they receive the letter, while the VA acknowledges the female veterans' admirable service and assures that all evidence will be taken into account when they apply for benefits.

This call for action aims to ensure that these women receive the care, benefits, and recognition they have rightfully earned through their service to the country.