Charter Renewed for the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans - February 1, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi has renewed the charter for a special 14-member panel that advises him on issues affecting women veterans.

"VA is being called upon to provide more services for women veterans," Principi said. "We must make a special effort to ensure we're meeting their needs for health care, rehabilitation, outreach and other VA programs."

The Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, established in 1984, reports annually to the VA secretary with assessments of the needs of women veterans. It also reviews the adequacy of VA programs to the needs of women veterans and makes recommendations for administrative and legislative changes.

The director of the Center for Women Veterans, Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris, serves as the executive director for the committee. The VA Center for Women Veterans, created in 1994, ensures that women veterans receive benefits and services on a par with male veterans; that they encounter no discrimination in their attempts to access these services; and that they are treated with respect, dignity and understanding.

"We've created change through collaboration," said Dr. Trowell-Harris."We've provided staff education and training, strengthened interagency relationships, developed partnerships with veterans service organizations, enhanced the flow of information, responded to over 200 inquiries since October, fostered research on womens health and incorporated women veterans' issues as part of the national women's agenda."

The 14-member committee is among 21 special VA advisory panels. By law, the charters of those panels expire every two years unless renewed by the VA secretary for another two-year term. Principi renewed the charter for the womens' panel on Dec. 31.

Membership of the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

Karen L. Ray (Chair for 2000-2002):From Lake Ridge, Va. Retired colonel in Army Nurse Corps, currently a principal in Edge City Innovations Inc., a health care consulting firm.

Constance G. Evans (Co-Chair for 2000-2002):From Lapwai, Idaho. A former Army nurse, retired captain in the U.S. Public Health Service and private consultant on health care issues among reservation-based Native Americans.

Marsha Tansey Four From Springfield, Pa. An Army nurse during the Vietnam War, currently director of Homeless Veterans Services for the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center.

Bertha Cruz Hall: From Fort Worth, Texas. An Hispanic veteran of the Air Force, now employed by the Texas Veterans Commission as a counselor and veterans advocate.

Marcelite J. Harris: From Merritt Island, Fla. A retired Air Force major general, the first African-American woman promoted to star-rank in the Air Force, now employed within the aerospace industry.

Edward E. Hartman: From Washington, D.C. A Gulf War veteran, now the assistant national director of Voluntary Services for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

Consuelo C. Kickbusch: From San Antonio, Texas. A retired Army lieutenant colonel who was the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in her career field, she has founded a consulting firm.

Kathy LaSauce:From Alexandria, Va. A retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and California Woman of the Year for 1978.

M. Joy Mann: From Dover, Del. A captain in the Air Force reserves and mission support squadron commander for the 512th Airlift Wing.

Lory Manning: From Arlington, Va. A retired Navy captain, and director of the Women in the Military and Hire a Vet projects at the Women's Research and Education Institute.

Michele (Mitzi) Manning: From Arlington, Va. A retired Marine Corps colonel, currently a student at Wesley Theological Seminary.

Kathleen A. Morrissey: From Toms River, N.J. An Army nurse in Vietnam, a colonel in the New Jersey Army National Guard and currently assistant director of New Jersey's Veterans Health Care Services.

Joan O'Connor: From Boston, Mass. A retired commander in the Naval Reserves, currently the Associate General Counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services.

Sheryl Schmidt: From Sacramento, Calif. A former Air Force staff sergeant, currently Deputy Secretary for Women Affairs with the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

UPDATE - Nov 2002

WASHINGTON -- Secretary Anthony J. Principi announced the appointment of four new members to the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, an expert panel that advises him on issues and programs affecting women veterans. "This advisory committee contributes in a major way to the success of VA programs affecting women veterans," Principi said. "It will help VA strengthen health care, benefits, rehabilitation, outreach and other programs for women veterans." Established in 1983, the 14-member advisory committee makes recommendations for administrative and legislative changes. The committee members are appointed to three-year terms.

The new committee members include Gwen M. Diehl from Taylorville, Ill.; Cynthia J. Falzone from S. Setauket, N.Y.; Lewis E. Schulz II, from Walnutport, Pa.; and Chief Master Sgt. Luc M. Shoals from Edmond, Oklahoma. Marsha L. Four, R.N., from Springfield, Pa., was named committee chair and Col. Michele (Mitzi) Manning, from Arlington, Va., will serve as vice-chair.

Second only to elderly veterans, women veterans are the fastest growing segment of the veteran population. There are approximately 1.4 million women veterans. They comprise 5.5 percent of the total veteran population and 5 percent of all veterans who use VA health care services. The VA estimates that by 2010 women veterans will comprise 10 percent of veterans using VA health care services. VA has women veterans health coordinators at 163 hospitals to assist these veterans on health issues and approximately 73 women veterans benefits coordinators to assist on benefits issues.
VA Press Release, November 5, 2002

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