skip to main content

H.R. 4635 (115th): To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of peer-to-peer counselors providing counseling for women veterans, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4635 directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase the number of female peer counselors so that female veterans who are separating or newly separated from military service can receive support from other female veterans. In addition, the bill emphasizes facilitating peer-to-peer counseling for women veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder or suffer from another mental health condition, or are homeless or at the risk of being homeless.

Women represent 10% of our nation’s veteran population and by 2030, this population is expected to grow to 15%. Over the past 10 years, the use of VA benefits among women veterans has increased by more than 45%. According to the VA’s 2016 suicide data report, the “risk of suicide was 2.4 times higher among female veterans when compared with civilian adult females.”

According to the bill sponsor, “[t]he VA’s existing peer-to-peer counseling program has seen great success. This bill would build upon its proven record by creating a more representative program of the veteran population and focus on the mental health needs of female veterans.”

Last updated Jun 12, 2018. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 13, 2018.

(Sec. 1) This bill directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to emphasize appointing peer support counselors for women veterans. The VA shall recruit women peer support counselors with expertise in gender-specific issues and services, VA services and benefits, and employment mentoring.

The VA shall:

emphasize peer support counseling for women veterans who suffered sexual trauma while in the Armed Forces, have post-traumatic stress disorder or another mental health condition, are homeless, or are at risk of suicide; conduct program outreach; coordinate with community, business, educational, and state and local government entities; and provide peer support counselor training.