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Lawmakers introduce bill to help female veterans access legal services

By LAURA OLSON | The Morning Call | Published: June 12, 2019

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Military veterans have told the Department of Veterans Affairs that one of the top things they struggle with is accessing legal assistance.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild and Pennsylvania’s other female House lawmakers introduced a bill on Wednesday seeking to address that need, with a specific focus on female veterans.

The Improving Legal Services for Female Veterans Act would require the VA to partner with at least one outside organization to provide legal services, such as preventing eviction or foreclosure and help with child support issues. Those were among the most common unmet needs in a 2017 Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education and Networking Group for Veterans (CHALENG for Veterans) survey.

More than 345,000 women have deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, according to Wild’s office, citing data from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. As women have taken on new roles in the military, they also have been seeking care and support services from the VA in growing numbers.

“There is no question that the government has a duty and responsibility to take care of our veterans when they return home from sacrificing for our country — but women veterans face unique challenges that the Department of Veterans Affairs isn’t currently equipped to help them with,” Wild said in a statement announcing the bill.

The bill’s co-sponsors include Pennsylvania Reps. Madeleine Dean, of the Montgomery County-based 4th District; Mary Gay Scanlon, who represents the Delaware County-based 5th District; and Chrissy Houlahan, of the Chester County-based 6th District.

Wild, Dean, Scanlon and Houlahan are all members of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus, which was created earlier this year.


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