The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday that Octavia Harris, a San Antonio-area veteran, is the new chairwoman of the National Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, a panel that advises the VA secretary on issues important to women veterans, their families and their caregivers.
Octavia Harris is a retired U.S. Navy Command Master Chief who served in operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. She served in the Navy for three decades.
In 2012, Harris transitioned from the Department of Defense to the VA healthcare system. She joined the San Diego Naval Medical Center as a program manager for the Comprehensive Advanced Restorative Effort program, a multidisciplinary patient care initiative aimed at improving the appearance and well-being of traumatically injured military men and women.
Harris will now head the VA’s National Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, created in 1983. Its advisory role includes making recommendations for policy and legislative changes to better serve women veterans. In the past, the committee has offered its input on topics like gynecological services, therapies and protocols for military sexual trauma, homelessness, vocational rehabilitation, claims processing, and recreational therapy.
Harris has already served two terms as a member of the committee.
“As VA continues to work toward modernization, the committee’s guidance will assist the department in meeting the important and evolving needs of women Veterans,” said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin in a statement. “The new chairwoman and new appointees’ deep and broad perspectives are invaluable in anticipating these needs.”
More than two million of the nation’s 22 million living veterans are women, according to the VA. Female veterans now make up nearly 10 percent of the veteran population. That percentage is expected to double by 2040.
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