SWAN is at the forefront in advocating for legislative solutions to issues facing active duty service women and women veterans. SWAN works on a bi-partisan basis with members of the House and Senate, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs and has well-established relationships with key committees on Capitol Hill. SWAN’s policy team is in constant demand by legislators and federal agencies to provide expertise and research on individual issues, and speak at briefings and provide hearing testimony.

SWAN remains a forceful and authoritative advocate for change, and works broadly with the federal government to educate, inform and advocate for a better, stronger, safer military throughout the spectrum of an individual’s service, from recruit to veteran.

Legislative Efforts

2012

H.R. 809, Rep Bob Filner: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to display in each facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs a Women Veterans Bill of Rights.
Enumerates health care rights to be included in the Bill of Rights, including the right to:
(1) coordinated, comprehensive, primary women’s health care at every VA medical facility;
(2) treatment by clinicians with specific training and experience in women’s health issues; and
(3) gender equity in access to and the provision of clinical health care services.

H.R. 930, Rep Chellie Pingree: To improve the disability compensation evaluation procedure of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma, creates fair evidentiary standards for sexual-trauma based Veterans Administration (VA) disability claims. The Congresswoman has also submitted a letter signed by dozens of other Members of Congress to VA Secretary Shinseki asking him to exercise good leadership and change these unfair standards himself, before Congress forces him to.

H.R. 1260, Support for Survivors Act (House version), Rep Bruce Braley: requires the DoD to preserve documentary evidence in sexual assault and harassment cases for the lifetime of the victim; establishes a joint task force to review documents generated during an investigation and recommends appropriate policy changes to report back to Congress in one year; requires DoD and VA to report back to Congress for next three years to discuss and assess current state of documents preservation, and report on cases of those who sought documentary evidence for claims.

H.R. 1517, Holley Lynn James Act, Rep Bruce Braley: revises the Uniform Code of Military Justice to ensure case disposition is decided by a general and not a low ranking officer; establishes a Department of Defense (DOD)-wide domestic violence policy; increases protections for survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence; increases prosecutions of military sex offenders; and enables survivors to take their perpetrator, commander or branch of service to federal court and sue for damages.

H.R. 1523, Rep Carolyn Maloney: The SAFER Act (Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry Act of 2011): To amend the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to provide for Debbie Smith grants for auditing sexual assault evidence backlogs and to establish a Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry, and for other purposes.

H.R. 1529, Defense STRONG Act, Reps Niki Tsongas and Rep Mike Turner: puts a General officer in charge of the DOD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office; requires military Sexual Assault Response Coordinators/Victim Advocates (SARCs/VAs) to be trained and certified; gives victims access to counsel; mandates privileged communication between victims and SARCs/VAs and the new SAFE Helpline; requires military retention of sexual assault records for 100 years; and grants expedited consideration for the humanitarian transfer of sexual assault survivors.

H.R. 1540, National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, Rep Howard McKeon: Authorizes appropriations for fiscal year 2012 for military activities of the Department of Defense and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes. Provisions from many of the bills on this page have been introduced as amendments to this larger bill.

H.R. 1578, Violence Against Women Health Initiative Act, Rep Louise Slaughter: Amends the Public Heath Service Act to improve the health care system for domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. This new version of VAWA adds a new section specifically on military women for the first time.

H.R. 1679, WE CARE Act, Rep Niki Tsongas: Directs the DOD to perform a full review of current healthcare services for service women.

H.R. 1709, Force Protection and Readiness Act, Rep Louise Slaughter: creates privileged communication between victim and SARCs/VAs; provides for expedited humanitarian transfers; implements reporting schedule from DOD to Congress on sexual assault matters; establishes reporting hotline for sexual assault; establishes SARCs/ VA’s at the Battalion level; makes SARCs/VAs deployable; provides court-martial record of trial to victims who testify; improves legal training for Judge Advocates for investigation and prosecution of military sex crimes.

H.R. 1928, Rep Loretta Sanchez: to repeal the ground combat exclusion policy for female members of the Armed Forces, would allow commanders to assign women to service in combat zones.

H.R. 2074, Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention and Health Care Enhancement Act, Rep Buerkle and Rep Miller: To require a comprehensive policy on reporting and tracking sexual assault incidents and other safety incidents that occur at medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

H.R. 2085, Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health (MARCH) for Military Women Act To amend title 10, United States Code, regarding restrictions on the use of Department of Defense funds and facilities for abortions.

H.R. 3435, Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act, Rep Jackie Speier: To amend title 10, United States Code, to improve the prevention of and response to sexual assault in the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.

H.R. 5792, The Gender Equality Combat Act, Rep Loretta Sanchez: To require a report on implementation of a termination of the ground combat exclusion policy for female members of the Armed Forces.

H.R. 5948, Veterans Fiduciary Reform Act of 2012, Rep Bill Johnson: To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the supervision of fiduciaries of veterans under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

H.R. 6046, Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act of 2012, Rep Adam Smith: To amend titles 10, 32, 37, and 38 of the United States Code, to add a definition of spouse for purposes of military personnel policies and military and veteran benefits that recognizes new State definitions of spouse.

S. 658, the Support for Survivors Act, (Senate version) Sen Amy Klobuchar: Requires the DoD to preserve documentary evidence in sexual assault and harassment cases for the lifetime of the victim; establishes a joint task force to review documents generated during an investigation and recommends appropriate policy changes to report back to Congress in one year; requires DoD and VA to report back to Congress for next three years to discuss and assess current state of documents preservation, and report on cases of those who sought documentary evidence for claims.

S. 1018, Defense STRONG Act: to provide for implementation of additional recommendations of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services (DTFSAMS): Would ensure the military implements many of the recommendations from the DTFSAMS to assist in reducing and eliminating sexual assault in the military.

S.1214, Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women Act, Sen Kirsten Gillibrand: “MARCH for Military Women Act”. To amend title 10, United States Code, regarding restrictions on the use of Department of Defense funds and facilities for abortions.

S. 1391, Sen Jon Tester: To improve the disability compensation evaluation procedure of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or mental health conditions related to military sexual trauma, creates fair evidentiary standards for sexual-trauma based Veterans Administration (VA) disability claims.

S. 1689, Veterans Sexual Assault Prevention Act of 2011, Sen Patrick Toomey, Rep Miller, Rep Buerkle: To require a comprehensive policy on reporting and tracking sexual assault incidents and other safety incidents that occur at medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

S. 1849, Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, Sen Al Franken: A bill to require a five-year strategic plan for the Office of Rural Health of the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs for improving access to, and the quality of, health care services for veterans in rural areas.

S. 2137, Sen Barbara Boxer: A bill to prohibit the issuance of a waiver for commissioning or enlistment in the Armed Forces for any individual convicted of a felony sexual offense.

S. 3049, Sen. Mark Begich: A bill to amend title 39, United States Code, to expand the definition of homeless veteran for purposes of benefits under the laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

S. 3182,  The  Gender Equality Combat Act, Sen Kirsten Gillibrand: To require a report on implementation of a termination of the ground combat exclusion policy for female members of the Armed Forces.

S. 3309, Homeless Veterans Assistance Improvement Act of 2012, Sen Patty Murray: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to homeless veterans, and for other purposes.

S. 3313, Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2012, Sen Patty Murray: To amend title 38, United States Code, to improve the assistance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to women veterans, to improve health care furnished by the Department, and for other purposes.