Every U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center would have a designated lactation space under a bipartisan bill introduced July 21 by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
“Right now, only half of VA medical centers have a nursing room, so we need to change that,” Sen. Murkowski said. “I’m proud to support female veterans by ensuring our VA facilities have nursing rooms that are accessible to employees, veterans, and their partners.”
Sen. Murkowski signed on as lead co-sponsor of the Lactation Spaces for Veteran Moms Act, S. 4580, which is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV). Both senators are members of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
If enacted, S. 4580 would ensure that every VA medical center has a specially designated hygienic private space for nursing care. Currently, 90 VA medical centers across the country have such designated rooms, but the spaces are reserved for employees who treat, not veterans receiving care at the VA, according to information provided by Sen. Murkowski’s office.
“We cannot continue to allow only half of VA medical centers to have a designated nursing room open to veterans and their partners,” Sen. Rosen said. “Mothers who are veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, the least we can do is give them privacy while breastfeeding by passing this bipartisan bill.”
“We should do everything we can to support mothers and their babies by providing better access to breastfeeding rooms in public places,” added Senator Murkowski. “As the number of female veterans increases rapidly, we need to ensure that we have adequate support services for them.”
The Senate bill is companion bill of the same name HR 5738, introduced in October 2021 by U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Elaine Luria (D-VA). On May 18, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved HR 5738, which is currently under review by the U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which is also considering S. 4580.