Four new members have been appointed to the VA’s Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. The committee is an expert panel that advises VA’s secretary on issues and programs impacting women Veterans.  It was established in 1983,  and has been instrumental in shaping policy and urging legislative changes to better serve women Veterans.

New Members VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

  Lisa Kirk Brown, Bellingham, Washington  A retired Maryland Air National Guard lieutenant colonel; currently serves as a member of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs’ Women Veterans Advisory Committee, a member of the Whatcom County Veterans Advisory Board, and a Disabled American Veterans service officer.   Kate Germano, Upper Marlboro, Maryland  A retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel; currently serves as chief operating officer for Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), a non-profit organization solely focused on supporting the needs of service women and women Veterans.
 Image of Karen O'Brien Karen O’Brien, University Place, Washington  A retired U.S. Army Colonel who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, she currently serves as a compensation and pension physician for the Veterans Benefits Administration in American Lake  Image of Betty Yarbrough Betty Yarbrough, Springfield, Virginia  A retired U. S. Army colonel, with deployments in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom; immediate past military director of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, where she served as the primary advisor to the Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness on all matters pertaining to women in the armed forces.


Committee members Octavia Harris, a retired command master chief petty officer from San Antonio, Texas, and Shannon McLaughlin, Esq., a Major with the Massachusetts National Guard, have been reappointed for an additional term.

I extend my very sincere gratitude to Navy Veteran Tia Christopher, retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel Louisa Long Jaffe, retired U.S. Public Health Service rear admiral Joyce Johnson, and Sara McVicker, formerly with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, for completing their dedicated, selfless service on the committee.

The contributions of a variety of subject matter experts from a wide range of backgrounds on an array off federal advisory committees are a key component of VA’s overall strategy to achieve stakeholder and public engagement in its efforts and commitment to serve Veterans, their families, and survivors, and I encourage those interested in serving in this capacity to visit the VA Advisory Committee Management Office website to learn more.

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Published on Jan. 3, 2017

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  1. Glendara Kay Wells January 15, 2017 at 11:14 am

    I’m always happy and so proud of women vets who are willing to give of themselves for all of us but as an honorably discharged US Navy vet I didn’t need medical help until the aging process hit me and I have been needing it since (six surgeries for cancer or pre-cancer since 2012 along with other connected issues.) Unfortunately I have fallen through the cracks, been misdiagnosed, treated rudely and suffered unnecessarily because my cancers are female only types and the authorization process in my area is totally unaware it seems about time being important. My last vulvectomy (my 4th) should have been an outpatient procedure but I was ignored even after I insisted on a biopsy — my oncologist, who was chosen by the VA because they have none here was a tunnel away at the hospital across the street from the VA hospital but I was ignored and sent home when I asked to be taken over there. By the time I was authorized by VA to see her the “pimple” had grown to an egg sized tumor and I ended up in an ICU for five days and had a BP of 35/20. I have “flare ups” of several conditions that could be life threatening but I am now afraid to go to the ER (bizarre and “impossible” occurrences there) or the VA hospital due to failure by VA medical people to let me have a voice, read my history and act accordingly, etc. No, this is not service related though I was a “victim” while in the service and worked in dental w/ liquid mercury for years—–so who knows? Can we have someone in the medical field who CARES about women’s needs address these issues within our system while I am still alive to witness that? Most of my friends and family think I am definitely worth saving! Thanks for your time.

  2. Marie A. Hiney January 7, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    I am a disabled Air Force veteran. I live in a small town in Indiana approximately 30 miles from a veteran service center. I must go to a “clinic” yearly to see a nurse practicioner to verify my medical needs from my civilian doctor. My current appointment(s) are: 1/19/17 (first trip for blood work); 1/26/17 (second trip for face-to-face). I have no vehicle. I must schedule two reservations from the DAV for transportation. I am on the doorstep of homelessness. Who do I contact for assistance/HUD voucher?
    I agree totally with previous comment! I just need help.

  3. Elvira cunningham January 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Who ever wrote that comment about no one deserves special treatment because of sex, race, or religious affiliation must be a machine and not a human. We men deserves special because of the fact we can have babies, we have breast, ovaries, and not to mention hormones, hot flashes…. I could go on. So stop hating because real women are different.

  4. Su Ryden January 6, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    It’s not that women are special, it’s that women have different needs that need to be addressed. Often, in addressing “women’s needs,” we improve the situation for men as well.

  5. Rosaura Brazill / Uttamjot Kaur January 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    The issue here is that the majority of people who sit on these advisory committees are in the high echelons of their organizations and are clueless of the realities of veterans in the “lower” pay grades, therefore unable to make any recommendations because they are not experiencing the situations. On the other hand, to make it look like they are doing their job, they take people in the lower rankings and place them in their “circle”, and of course they forget what the focus is, which is to come with efficient ideas that don’t duplicate services and discuss how to implement them for the purpose to completely benefit the veterans. These requires people in ALL levels of the situation. The Veterans know best.

  6. Junk Bin January 6, 2017 at 10:31 am

    time to quit the we are special routine and join the ranks of the we are all veterans and no one deserves special treatmment because of sex, race, or religious affiliatio

    • Sheila M January 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      Junk Bin, really? If that’s the case then Vietnam era vets should have stopped long ago. They got and still get everything handed to them on a silver platter, especially 100% disability for everything under the sun. They haven’t had to work or lift a finger to support themselves ever. They haven’t had to go through the burden of proof for their claimed disabilities especially ptsd.

  7. William W. Turner January 3, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Are there any former enlisted service members on this committee? I know some who would be awesome on this team.

    • Kayla Williams January 4, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Yes, there are currently several former enlisted service members, and we always seek to have members representing an array of backgrounds and areas of expertise. Please encourage your contact to check out to learn more about VA Advisory Committees and how to apply.

      • Rosaura Brazill / Uttamjot Kaur January 6, 2017 at 1:54 pm

        The link does not provide an area where it says you can apply. i wonder if the person that recommended the site, navigated it in its entirety? Just wondering…

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