During September, DAV National Legislative Director Joy Ilem and DAV Assistant National Legislative Director Shurhonda Love attended multiple panels to discuss the steps DAV is taking to bring women veterans issues to the forefront. As a legislative priority, DAV has worked to spread the message from the organization’s 2014 report Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home. At the National Foundation for Women Legislators Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, Love presented findings from the report, goals of DAV, and calls to action to implement change.
“Women are a rapidly increasing and important component of U.S. military services,” Love told attendees. “Of the 300,000 women who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, 161 have made the ultimate sacrifice and over a thousand have been wounded or injured. Following military service, women veterans are turning to VA in record numbers. In fact, the number of women seeking VA care has more than doubled over the past ten years and is projected to rise.”
At a panel in Washington D.C., titled Veterans: The New Battleground, Ilem represented DAV and provided information, guidance, and answers to the crowd and online viewers regarding women veteran issues, and what DAV is trying to achieve. Ilem said a priority for her and her team is to bring attention to the unique issues women veterans face
“For example, VA has the best programs for homeless, bar none,” Ilem told the audience, “but if a woman comes to VA and says, ‘I need help for me and my kids,’ the VA couldn’t accommodate that veteran, because by law, they can’t house children. So the woman would walk away.”