Bill creating the Hoosier Women Veterans Program passes House
STATEHOUSE — Legislation sponsored by State Representative Dick Hamm (R-Richmond) and cosponsored by State Representative Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) regarding the Hoosier Women Veterans Program passed the House Monday with an unanimous vote.
“I was eager to sponsor this legislation in the House and support Hoosier veteran women,” said Rep. Hamm. “Thousands of women have answered the call of duty to serve our state and country, and I believe that we should be doing everything we can to make sure they are being heard and their needs are being met.”
Senate Bill (SB) 354 establishes the Hoosier Women Veterans Program to provide information and services to the women who have served from the state of Indiana. Although there are over 37,000 women veterans living in Indiana, the Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs (IDVA) has no full-time position or program informing women veterans of the unique benefits they qualify for. SB 354 allows the creation of a program that will accomplish this, provided the program be created with existing funds in the Department of Veteran Affairs.
“Women veterans have to go through the exact same avenues as men to receive different kinds of care and benefits,” said Rep. Saunders. “SB 354 will allow the IDVA to help women veterans as quickly as possible.”
The IDVA currently has Najuma Austin serving in an interim position fulfilling the needs of this program, but SB 354 will officially codify the position. The bill is also supported by a variety of veteran’s groups, including the Disabled American Veterans, The Military / Veterans Coalition of Indiana and the Sister Soldier Netowork.
SB 354 has passed the House and Senate.