For over three decades, I have served alongside incredibly brave women in the Ohio Army National Guard who continue to put their lives on the line for our country. However, these women should not needlessly put their health on the line when we can prevent it.
The number of women joining the military continues to increase; it is estimated that there will be over two million female veterans by next year. I am glad that more women are not only joining the military, but achieving more leadership roles than ever before. But as a result, we must keep up with the changing dynamic and prepare for the effects of these changes.
That’s why I recently introduced a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directly aimed at better understanding the unique health needs of women serving in the military. It will direct the Secretary of Defense to submit a report that summarizes the findings of the Millennium Cohort Study that relates to women’s health.
The amendment will also identify areas for improvement in researching these issues and have a course of action to address any shortcomings. This simple amendment is a great starting point to understanding the specific short- and long-term impacts of service on women’s health. If we seize this window of opportunity to learn the effects of service on women now, we can save individuals, researchers, and hospitals a great deal of time and resources in the future.
The great news is, the information that we need already exists. The Millennium Cohort Study has been gathering data since 1999 in order to understand the “impact of military exposures on long-term health outcomes” on both male and female soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors.
In fact, one third of the participants in the Study are women. And yet, shockingly little of the results reported focus on the unique health needs of female service members. It is out there, it is time we put it to good use.
These women fought for our country, it is time that we fight for their health. We owe it to these women to make an investment into understanding their unique needs right now that will result in savings in resources, and lives, later on.
It is no secret that our nation’s service members make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our nation. My bipartisan amendment takes steps to create a plan of action to ensure that the over 200,000 women serving in our military have the care that they have earned and deserve.
If you would like to learn more about this amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or any other matters related to improving the quality of life for our service members and their families, please call my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2015, my Hilliard office at 614-771-4968, my Lancaster office at 740-654-2654, or my Wilmington office at 937-283-7049.
Congressman Steve Stivers writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.