EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Jacky Rosen leads effort to secure benefits for 310 female veterans

La senadora federal de Nevada Jacky Rosen. (Foto John Locher / AP, archivo)

By Emilia Pablo

September 28, 2023

Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada is requesting that the federal government correct errors in their military records to ensure that female veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq are eligible to receive the benefits they earned.

The Nevadan/El Nevadense obtained an exclusive copy of a letter written by Sen. Rosen and four other United States Senators in which they call on the Department of Defence (DOD) and the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to amend the military records of and provide benefits for 310 female servicemembers who deployed alongside Special Operations Forces (SOF) in Iraq and Afghanistan as members of Cultural Support Teams (CSTs), including Nevadans.

“We urge you to act and identify the female servicemembers who served on CSTs whose military records need to be modified to accurately reflect their combat service, so that those with service-connected injuries can be provided with the critical care and benefits they have earned as quickly as possible,” the letter reads.

This is not the first time Sen. Rosen has sought to support the 310 women.

In March of this year, she, along with fellow legislators, introduced the Jax Act with bipartisan support. The bill would amend the records of the women to ensure they accurately reflect their service as members of the CST.

But the legislative process takes time, so Rosen is hoping the DOD and VA will proactively resolve the matter and recognize the dangerous job the women performed.

“These heroic women served our country, facing the same life-threatening danger that other combat veterans faced,” Sen. Rosen told The Nevadan. “However, their military records do not accurately reflect their combat service, despite accompanying special operations forces on raids and sustaining injuries.”

Female veterans did much of the same work and experienced the same traumatic incidents as men in combat; however, the 310 women have not been recognized for their service. As a result, they are being turned away from the VA and denied access to the same benefits and critical health services that their male peers get.

Retired US Army Sergeant E-5, Carlos Silva, a veteran of the War in Iraq who now lives in Las Vegas, highlighted the importance of access to health care services and benefits.

“As a male, I struggle to get certain medical services, even now,” he said. “I often get denied for medical treatment that I need; so, they send me to numerous evaluations where I have to retell my time in the warzone—those exact difficult moments that I am trying to forget. I feel for the 310 women asking for their rights.”

Silva doesn’t remember seeing any women around him during his time with the Army from 1986-1995, but thinks it’s time women receive the same recognition and benefits as men.

“I’m calling on the Biden Administration to right this decades-long wrong by correcting these servicemembers’ records and ensuring they finally get the recognition and benefits they are owed,” Senator Rosen told The Nevadan.

The letter was co-written by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

The two-page letter ends with a plea to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough to take action; especially with the disability cases denied for hundreds of women across the country:

“Due to these administrative oversights, we call upon you to remedy these errors so our nation may properly recognize and care for our female combat veterans,” the letter reads. “While we have introduced this important legislation in the Senate, we implore you to review the personnel records and denied disability claims of these women now, and act on your findings so that they may be properly recognized and compensated for their service.”

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  • Emilia Pablo

    Emilia Pablo Bazan is The Nevadan, El Nevadense Political Correspondent. She is an alumna from U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism with over 10 years of experience working in the television news industry. She's also a former speechwriter and press officer for the Obama administration and an Emmy award recipient.

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