Source: United States House of Representatives – Representative Mike Levin (CA-49)
San Juan Capistrano, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) announced the formation of a panel of servicemembers, veterans, and other community leaders who will work together on recommendations to name a local Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility after a woman veteran. The “VA Facility Dedication Advisory Panel” will compile a report on notable women veterans with ties to the region who are worthy of this honor. Currently, there are no VA facilities in the United States that are named after women veterans, and neither the San Diego VA Medical Center nor the Oceanside VA Clinic are named after an individual.
The panel is led by Army Veteran and Carlsbad resident Karin Brennan. Other members include Paul Lebidine (USMC), Karen Fore (USN), Jessica Brown (Military Spouse), Terry “Skip” Curtis (USMC), Mollie Juberien (USMC), Kassandra Perry (USN), Edwin Gombio (USN), Charles Anderson (USMC), Janessa Goldbeck (USMC), and Gustavo Aguilar (USMC).
“Throughout our nation’s history, women have served and sacrificed for our freedom just like men, but have often gone without the recognition they deserve,” said Rep. Levin. “It is past time to rectify that injustice and live up to our responsibility to honor all veterans, including women. It’s disappointing that not a single VA facility in the country is named after a woman veteran, but we can change that here in our District. I appreciate the time and effort that Army Veteran Karin Brennan and the rest of our advisory panel will devote to this important task, and look forward to introducing legislation based on their recommendations. While they do that important work, we must also focus on passing additional legislation like my Housing for Women Veterans Act to ensure that women veterans have the opportunities and benefits they deserve.”
“It is my honor to lead a group of distinguished veterans and servicemembers who are committed to recognizing the extraordinary contributions of women veterans,” said Army Veteran and Panel Chair Karin Brennan. “Inspired by women like Capt. Lillian Daly, the first female Marine based at Camp Pendleton, I served side by side with men, performing the same mission and taking the same risks. It’s time for our service to receive equal recognition, and that can start by finally naming a VA facility after a woman veteran. I’m grateful to Congressman Levin for initiating this effort, and look forward to presenting our recommendations next Memorial Day.”
Currently, there are no VA facilities named after women veterans. In September 2020, the VA released the 2020 Report of its Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. The Advisory Committee made seven recommendations to VA, one of which is the inclusionary branding of VA facilities. This item recommended that VA “form a working group to recommend names for VA undedicated facilities to honor women veterans” and “support legislation that promotes the renaming of VA facilities to honor women who have made significant contributions to military service, to recognize the impact of women who serve, and to promote inclusiveness and cultural transformation.”
In its response, VA stated, “VA agrees with the recommendation in concept but cannot implement until there is direct Congressional action on this issue. Congress has the authority to name Federal property after an individual, including the renaming of VA facilities.” With that understanding, Rep. Levin will introduce legislation to name a local VA facility after a woman veteran based on the recommendations of his advisory panel, which will be released on Memorial Day, 2021.