Sullivan, Rosen, Ernst & Duckworth Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Properly Recognize Female Veterans’ Combat Service with Special Forces, Ensure Access to Benefits
WASHINGTON—Yesterday, U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)introduced the bipartisan Jax Act to amend the military records of women veterans who deployed alongside Special Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq to ensure they accurately reflect their service as members of Cultural Support Teams (CST). Before female servicemembers were able to formally serve in combat roles, CSTs were deployed to combat zones with Special Operations Forces (SOF) in order to engage with the female populations, greatly expanding operational and intelligence-gathering capabilities.
These women veterans shared similar operational and traumatic experiences as their male peers also serving in combat, but have not been recognized for their combat service, denying them rank, benefits, and critical health services. This bipartisan legislation would require the review of the military records of CST women veterans who served from 2010 to 2021 in support of Special Operations Forces. The bill is named the Jax Act after Jaclyn “Jax” Scott, who served on a Cultural Support Team and has been leading the fight to get women combat veterans the recognition and benefits they deserve.
“For many years, women service members served valiantly alongside our military’s elite Special Operations Forces, risking their lives to help take out some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists while being denied official recognition for their combat duties,” said Senator Sullivan. “These women incurred the same hardships as their male counterparts, but tragically, they did not receive the same care from our VA or the recognition they deserve once they came home. This is wrong and must be fixed. I thank Senator Rosen for authoring this bill to fulfill our duty to these courageous American women and I thank our female service members who’ve fought and risked their lives for our country.”
“Women veterans who bravely served our nation and fought for our freedoms deserve all of the recognition, benefits, and honor they earned, just like their male counterparts. Due to outdated policies, women veterans who were part of Cultural Support Teams and who served in combat are being denied rank, benefits, and critical health services,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m introducing bipartisan legislation to cut through bureaucratic red tape so that our brave women veterans can see their service reflected on their military records and receive the recognition and access to resources they are so deeply owed.”
“Make no mistake – women have been wearing our nation’s uniform and serving honorably in war zones long before our military removed the ban on women serving in combat,” said Senator Ernst. “As the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate, I’m proud to fight for the hundreds of women who played critical roles in Afghanistan and Iraq and ensure they receive the care and recognition they have always deserved.”
“The women who served in our military’s CSTs selflessly answered the call and played an important role in keeping our nation safe, but because we haven’t recognized their combat duty, too many of them are not able to access the disability compensation and VA treatment their sacrifices deserve,”said Senator Duckworth. “This is unacceptable. I’m proud to help introduce the Jax Act to help fully recognize the service and sacrifice of these brave heroes and make sure they receive the care and benefits they’ve earned.”
“The Jax Act will give power back to women of the SOF community,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jaclyn “Jax” Scott, board member, Special Operations Association of America. “It will allow me and others like me to rightfully access healthcare and disability benefits we deserve. It is the first step in righting the wrong and helping to heal the moral injury we carry with us every day.”
“Special Operations Association of America fights for those who fight for us. That has always included the women of the CST community, and the Jax Act will ensure that these women get the support and recognition they deserve,” said David Cook, the Executive Director of Special Operations Association of America. “We’re grateful for bipartisan support in Congress to right this wrong.”
“As a Nevadan who served as part of the Army’s Cultural Support Team in Afghanistan, I am proud to see that this legislation will finally recognize the immense contributions of the women I served with in combat. This bill will also give them access to long-overdue earned benefits for the danger they put themselves in to protect our nation,” said Shirley Wu, Las Vegas resident and former Army Cultural Support Team Staff Sergeant.“Thank you, Senator Rosen, for standing up for women servicemembers and working to see that they are honored.”
The Jax Act is being introduced the week of the 75th anniversary of women being allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Earlier this week, Senator Rosen helped introduce the Women’s Veterans Appreciation Day Resolution recognizing the service and sacrifices of women veterans and marking the signing of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act 75 years ago on June 12, 1948.
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