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Senate unanimously passes Wyden bill to expand mammogram screenings for veterans

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced Thursday that the U.S. Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation to expand Department of Veterans Affairs mammogram screening eligibility.

The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas Supporting Expanded Review for Veterans in Combat Environments (SERVICE) Act would require the VA to conduct mammograms for all women who served in areas associated with burn pits and other toxic exposures regardless of age, symptoms or family history.

“Women veterans may be at a much higher risk of developing breast cancer and deserve equitable access to early detection screenings and treatment,” Wyden said. “With today’s unanimous passage of the SERVICE Act by the U.S. Senate, we are one step closer to ensuring our nation’s veterans have the quality preventative care and life-saving services they need to live long healthy lives. I won’t stop fighting until this legislation reaches President Biden’s desk and is signed into law.”

The legislation is named in honor of Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, a Marine veteran and public health professional who was unaware of her increased risk for breast cancer as a result of her deployment to Iraq. During a routine medical exam in 2018 she was advised to undergo a mammogram and was then diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at the age of 38.

“I could have used that information much earlier than I acquired it. We should be telling military women these things and arranging the standard of care for preventive medicine around these increased odds ratios. Put simply, I needed that mammogram sooner,” Dr. Thomas shared with the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in written testimony last summer in support of the legislation.

The Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act has the support of the Disabled American Veterans, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and Burn Pits 360.

Along with Wyden, the bill was authored by Senator John Boozman, R-Ark. It was co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

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