WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the bipartisan Servicewomen and Women Veterans (SWWV) Caucus relaunched for the 118th Congress under the leadership of Congresswomen Jen Kiggans (VA-02), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06), and Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). SWWV fosters collaboration among Members of Congress to address issues facing America’s servicewomen and women veterans. To date, there are more than 50 members of the caucus, which is bipartisan and open to all Members of Congress. Congresswomen Kiggans and Sherrill are both former U.S. Navy helicopter pilots and Congresswoman Houlahan is a former U.S. Air Force officer.Currently, there is a record number of women veterans serving in Congress.
“The 10 years I spent serving my country as a Navy helicopter pilot were incredibly rewarding,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “As the Co-Chair of the Congressional Servicewomen and Women Veterans Caucus, I’m proud to continue to be a voice for the women of our armed forces! I look forward to working with my colleagues to advocate for servicewomen and my fellow female veterans around the country and across the globe.”
When the draft ended in 1973, women represented just 2 percent of the enlisted forces and 8 percent of the officer corps. Today, those numbers have grown to 19 percent and 20 percent, respectively. Currently, there are over two million living women veterans in the U.S. In the next 25 years, women veterans are projected to nearly double their population to account for nearly one in five living veterans.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the age-adjusted suicide rate for women veterans is almost two times higher than the rate for civilian women. With this in mind, it is especially alarming that, on average, women veterans do not connect with VA services until nearly three years after separating from the military. Data indicates women veterans are just as likely to experience emotionally traumatic or distressing experiences while serving and one in three servicewomen seen by Veterans Health Administration disclose they have experienced Military Sexual Trauma. However, there are few gender-specific care guidelines and a shortage of women program managers and coordinators at the VA. The caucus will work to address these issues.