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Rice, Mast Bill to Revise Department of Veterans Affairs Mission Statement Passes House of Representatives

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

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Washington, September 22, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Honoring All Veterans Act (H.R. 3010), 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 their surviving family members. The bill passed unanimously by a voice vote.

The VA’s current mission statement is gender-exclusive and fails to properly acknowledge the service of all our nation’s veterans. The Honoring All Veterans Act will change the 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.”

“For far too long, the VA’s gender-exclusive motto hasn’t properly acknowledged the service of women and LGBTQ veterans,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “Updating the motto is long overdue and I am pleased we have taken a significant step forward in making this change today. I thank Representative Mast and our colleagues in the House for their support, and I urge swift passage of this bill in the Senate. It is time every veteran who served our country receives the respect and recognition they deserve.”

“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 for more women, LGBTQ, and minority veterans accessing VA care and benefits than ever before -- that starts by recognizing the service of all of our veterans in VA’s motto,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “I’m so pleased to see this bipartisan bill from Rep. Rice pass the House today showing millions of women veterans, LGBTQ veterans, and their caregivers that they matter.”

“Women have been fighting in defense of our great nation since the Revolutionary War and their brave service should be recognized and celebrated every time they enter a VA facility,” said Ranking Member Phil Roe. “VA has made great strides over the past few years to better welcome and serve a growing number of women veterans and those efforts have borne fruit as women report higher trust in VA than ever before. The Honoring All Veterans Act would ensure that VA’s motto is similarly inclusive not only of women veterans but also of the many veteran caregivers, family members, and survivors that VA proudly serves. I thank my friends, Congresswoman Rice and Congressman Mast, for doing what is right by our veterans by introducing this important bill, which I was proud to support today.”

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 Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.

"We are incredibly proud of the bipartisan leadership by Reps. Kathleen Rice and Brian Mast in leading their colleagues toward today's unanimous House passage of the Honoring All Veterans Act (H.R. 3010) to finally update the VA's motto to take an important big step in recognizing the military service of ALL veterans," said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America CEO Jeremy Butler. "This has been a priority for us over the last three years on behalf of the fastest growing segment of American veterans, and its time has definitely come."

In addition to changing the mission statement, the bill also requires 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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