Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Deborah Ross (NC-02) voted to pass H.R. 4350, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes two of Ross’ amendments that support women servicemembers and their families.

The first amendment requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to submit a report on the availability of menstrual hygiene products on military bases and accommodations related to caring for menstrual hygiene available to members of the Armed Forces. The second amendment requests a report on potential TRICARE coverage of preconception and prenatal genetic carrier screening tests for certain medical conditions. In the U.S., women now comprise 14.4 percent (about 200,000) of active-duty forces, and North Carolina has one of the highest active-duty military populations, with 116,114 servicemembers.

Anecdotal evidence has shown that female servicemembers often worry about accessing sanitary products on military installations and having time and accommodations to care for their menstrual health. Studies have also found that female cadets report menstrual symptoms and problems with obtaining, changing, and disposing of menstrual materials can interfere with female servicemembers official activities. However, current data on menstrual health and hygiene for women in the Armed Forces is limited.

Preconception and prenatal genetic carrier screening tests can determine reproductive risk of spinal muscular atrophy, cystic fibrosis, hemoglobinopathies, Fragile X syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, and more. While many insurance providers cover these tests, TRICARE does not.

“We owe it to the courageous women of our Armed Forces to ensure that their unique needs are met and that they receive outstanding health care while serving in uniform,” said Congresswoman Ross. “Neglecting these needs has far-reaching implications for servicemembers’ health and morale, as well as for the overall recruitment and retention of women in the military. I’m pleased that the House accepted my amendments to promote the well-being of these brave American women who risk their lives for our freedom.”     

The NDAA provides our men and women in uniform with a 2.7 percent pay increase; makes critical changes to how the military addresses sexual assault; strengthens parental leave for caregiving servicemembers; expands access to childcare; improves financial security of low-income military members and those with families’ members living with disabilities; and strengthens access to health care, including mental health care and reproductive care. Congresswoman Ross spoke in favor of the amendments in the House Rules Committee. Her remarks can be found here.