On October 12, 2018, the Veterans Legal Services Clinic submitted a petition on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), and NYC Veterans Alliance to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA), asking VA to change its official motto. The VA’s current motto—“To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan”—excludes and obscures women veterans. The petition calls on the VA to replace its current motto with one that is inclusive of all veterans, including women.
The VA’s outdated and exclusionary motto is symbolic of the sexism that pervades the veterans’ community at large. Women veterans face unemployment and PTSD symptoms at higher rates than male veterans and are twice as likely to be homeless. Many VA medical centers are ill-equipped to provide services unique to women, such as gynecological and pre-natal care. A IAVA survey of 1,500 women veterans in 2015 found that the majority of participants believed that the VA failed to treat women with respect or provide adequate services.
A new motto would be a meaningful step toward gender equity in the veterans’ community at large, and would send the crucial message that women veterans are no less honored and valued than their male counterparts.
A copy of the petition may be found here.