WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) is championing policies to enhance the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care for women veterans by strengthening breast cancer screenings and care.
The incidence of breast cancer in women veterans and military populations is estimated to be up to 40 percent higher than the general population according to a study on cancer occurrence at Walter Reed Medical Center. Given the dangerous environments in which military members serve and additional risk factors associated with these locations, Boozman is pushing for updated VA policies for administering mammograms and expanding access to high-quality breast cancer screenings.
“Early detection is crucial to preventing and treating breast cancer. Female veterans are almost twice as likely as their civilian peers to be diagnosed with this disease so we must raise awareness about the increased risk, direct resources toward encouraging vulnerable women to receive earlier screenings and ensure the VA has the ability to support them. I’m proud to advocate for policies focused on developing advanced procedures to help save lives,” Boozman said.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee met on Wednesday to discuss the Boozman-backed Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options (MAMMO) for Veterans Act. This legislation would require the VA to develop a strategic plan to improve breast imaging services, create a telemammography pilot program for veterans in areas where the VA does not offer in-house mammography and expand veterans’ access to clinical trials through partnerships with the National Cancer Institute.
In July, the Senate VA Committee unanimously approved Boozman-authored legislation that would expand mammogram screening eligibility.
That bill, the Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act, would require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.
Boozman’s SERVICE Act builds on the momentum created by the passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, landmark legislation to eliminate barriers to care and service many women veterans face when accessing VA benefits. The historic bill was signed into law in January 2021.