Female Military Veterans in Congress Advocate for Preservation of DoD Women’s Personnel Panel

Six female military veterans in Congress are arguing to preserve a Defense Department panel on women’s personnel issues that has advocated for opportunities for female servicemembers, Military.com reported.

U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria

The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) has been temporarily suspended due to an efficiency review of the Defense Department’s 42 advisory committees that started January.

However, the move is facing opposition from the six veterans: Rep. Elaine Luria, D-VA; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-IA; Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-IL; Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-IA; Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-PA; and Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-NJ.

The DoD’s Manpower and Reserve Affairs office had recommended DACOWITS’s work be integrated into the new 20-member diversity committee.

The six penned a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“We believe this work is substantial enough to require a dedicated organization; including DACOWITS’s issues in the charter of a broader organization will not provide sufficient resources or focus to achieve the results that are necessary,” wrote the congressional members.

“Losing momentum, expertise and initiative will have a deleterious impact on the critical work that the Committee does in service to the Secretary of Defense and Homeland Security,” Cari Thomas, retired rear admiral who served nearly four years on the committee wrote in a letter to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA. “This is particularly important because the Marine Corps still does not have a fully gender integrated boot camp, the full opening of all combat positions to women is still under study, and women of color far lag behind their peers to promotions to the highest ranks in the services.”

In the past 70 years, DACOWITS has made more than 1,000 recommendations – 98% were fully or partially implemented, according to the panel’s 2020 report.