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House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Passes Rice, Mast Legislation to Update Department of Veterans Affairs Mission Statement

Bill changes VA’s mission statement to be more inclusive of women and LGBTQ veterans and surviving family members

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Washington, July 30, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Representatives Kathleen Rice (NY-04) and Brian Mast (FL-18) to revise the mission statement for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to be more inclusive of women and LGBTQ veterans and surviving family members. The Honoring All Veterans Act (H.R. 3010) changes the current mission statement to read: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”

“Since our founding, women and LGBTQ military service members have answered the call of duty to defend our nation in times of need,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “And today, women make up a greater part of the veteran population than ever before. It’s time for the Department of Veterans Affairs mission statement to properly recognize those whom it exists to serve. I’m proud the Honoring All Veterans Act passed out of committee today, and I will continue working with Representative Mast and our colleagues in the House to see that it becomes law. 

“There’s no doubt that female veterans face unique challenges and healthcare needs that the VA has not yet been able to successfully address. Fixing this critical failure starts at the top and changing the mission statement is a needed first step,” Rep. Brian Mast said. “I also know personally that when I deployed to Afghanistan and was injured, it wasn’t just a challenge for me, but it deeply impacted my wife and our entire family. Acknowledging the ongoing needs of families, caregivers and survivors is another critical improvement.”

“When I became Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I vowed to help prepare VA to serve an increasingly diverse veteran population with more women, LGBTQ, and minority veterans than ever before -- that work starts by recognizing the service of all of our veterans,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “I’m proud to see Rep. Rice’s bipartisan bill pass out of Committee today to make sure VA changes its exclusionary motto and shows millions of women veterans, LGBTQ veterans, and their caregivers that they matter.”

“I was proud to support Rep. Rice and Rep. Mast’s bill today in recognition of the millions of women who have raised their right hands in service and for future generations to come,” said Ranking Member Phil Roe. “Women veterans are the fastest growing demographic of veterans, which is why we must continue to build on our commitment to ensuring they feel welcome and respected every time they walk into a VA facility - today's bill does just that.”

The Honoring All Veterans Act has been endorsed by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Minority Veterans of America (MVA), Military Women's Coalition (MWC) and the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus. 

"IAVA applauds the leadership of Reps. Rice and Mast for their success in passing this important legislation from Committee," said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Executive VP Tom Porter.  “A long overdue motto change will recognize and support ALL veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. It retains the heart of President Lincoln’s historic statement, while updating the VA motto to reflect today's veteran community."  

In addition to changing the mission statement, the bill will also require that within 30 days of enactment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs publish a notification on the Department’s website explaining the mission statement change, update each Department website, and issue guidance and a timeline to the entire Department for updating all previous mission statement references. Within six months, the Secretary will be required to submit a report to Congress on the Department’s compliance. 

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

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