SWAN Background

Service Women’s Action Network

The Service Women’s Action Network is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization advocating on behalf of all servicewomen and women veterans. We are a member-driven community network and our actions are guided by the priorities of our members, regardless of rank and experience. We benefit from the involvement of general officers to junior enlisted, from those who retired 20 years ago to those whose service to their country is just beginning. SWAN is the voice of all military women—past, present and future.



SWAN was founded in 2007 by women veterans and over the past decade SWAN has established itself as the leading U.S. organization advocating for equal opportunities, equal protections and equal benefits within the military and at the VA. SWAN builds up service women leaders, educates policy makers, testifies before Congress, engages military and veteran leadership, works with the legal community and informs the public. We provide expert research and analysis and help service members and veterans to advocate for their interests.


Key SWAN Advocacy Issues


SWAN believes that the most effective military is one where women are integrated into all occupations without structural barriers. SWAN advocates for one single physical fitness standard for men and women, and for occupational standards that are task-oriented and gender-neutral. Additionally, SWAN believes that women should be eligible for Selective Service.


SWAN believes that our troops deserve to serve in a military without fear of rape, sexual harassment or sexual assault, and without fear of retaliation for reporting.


SWAN believes that service women and women veterans deserve nothing less than the best health care available in every respect, including access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care.


SWAN believes that to successfully achieve its mission, the VA must ensure women receive the full spectrum of quality health care and maintain a disability and pension system that is fair and designed to serve the needs of all veterans, regardless of gender.


SWAN has built a national reputation as a force behind policy change and we have achieved notable success in transforming military culture and reforming veterans’ services. To date, SWAN has played a major role in opening combat jobs to service women, holding sex offenders accountable in the military justice system, eliminating barriers to disability claims for those who have experienced military sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress, and expanding access for military women to a broad range of reproductive healthcare services. Our work includes:

  • Legislation
    National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – provisions on SWAN policy agenda items have included:


    • Increased victim services
    • Retaliation/Whistleblower protections
    • Gender integration provisions; ensure job standards are fair and scientific
    • Women specific personal protective equipment
  • VA Women’s Health Care
    • Introduction of bipartisan women veterans’ healthcare bill in House and Senate
    • Brought litigation and a legislative campaign that exposed the VA’s abysmal handling of military sexual trauma-related disability claims
    • Worked on HR 671 (The Ruth Moore Act) to provide better provisions for mental health care for MST survivors
  • Combat Integration & Gender Equality
    • Helped lift barriers to women’s access to all job assignments in the military—brought a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that led to the successful repeal of the Combat Exclusion Policy
    • Helped open more military posts to infantry and armor women through Congressional meetings, testimony before committees and media advocacy opposing the Leader’s First Policy that restricted military assignments for combat arms women
    • Part of the Working Group (CRWG) on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
  • Military Sexual Trauma
    • Co-authored the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA)
    • Introduced the Military Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment (SAVE) Act
    • Introduced the Military Sexual Trauma Claims Administration Reform and Eligibility (MST CARE) Act
    • Supported the PRIVATE Act to eliminate impunity for service members who share sexually explicit photos of their colleagues on the internet

Today, more than 2.5 million women have served or currently serve in the U.S. military; the highest number in history. Even as the total veterans’ population in the U.S. declines, the number of women veterans is actually projected to increase as a percentage of the force. Despite service women’s growing numbers and importance to the U.S. military and society, the American public still suffers from a lack of awareness and misperceptions about military women. SWAN continues its innovative, transformative work to change military culture, to increase opportunities for women, eliminate sexual violence, and create a paradigm shift within the American public and in the veteran’s community around the contributions, presence and needs of service women.

SWAN CEO Biography

Deshauna Barber HeadshotDESHAUNA BARBER

Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) CEO

Deshauna Barber is the Chief Executive Officer of the Service Women’s Action Network. She was appointed by SWAN’s Board of Directors in January 2020. As Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Barber is responsible for the overall management and direction of the SWAN organization. In addition to her executive role in the organization, Ms. Barber is an Army Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves and an award-winning international speaker, coach, and entrepreneur.

In 2016, Ms. Barber was crowned the first soldier to the win the prestigious title of Miss USA. She spent her year-long reign as Miss USA advocating for our men and women in uniform and continues much of her career focusing on advocating for soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is her biggest focus to ensure that our veterans receive a wealth assistance, support and aid by the United States government. Prior to her appointment at SWAN, Ms. Barber worked as an IT Analyst in the United States government for over 7 years being employed by agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Transportation, Department of The Navy and lastly the Department of Commerce.

Ms. Barber is a graduate of Virginia State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and the University of Maryland University College with her Master of Science in Computer Information Systems. The 30-year-old was born in Columbus, Georgia however, as the daughter of an Army Master Sergeant who served in the United States Special Forces, Deshauna relocated multiple times growing up.

Deshauna has appeared on “The Steve Harvey Show,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” “Fox and Friends,” “The Chelsea Show,” “Good Morning Washington,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The T.D. Jakes Show,” “The Nightly Show,” “The Source” on Sirius XM, “The Daily Show,” “Lunch Break,” “Live with Kelly,” “Good Morning America” and in Glamour Magazine and Diversity Magazine.

SWAN Research, Press Releases & SWAN in the Media

SWAN Research

SWAN facilitates progress through research. Since 2016 SWAN has conducted original research on a variety of topics. Findings from the research is used to highlight the needs of service women and women veterans. Our research has been used to influence policy and to legislate change.

Click here for SWAN’s research »


Archived Press Releases

Click here for SWAN’s press releases »


SWAN in the Media

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SWAN Legislative Priorities

SWAN Legislative Priorities

SWAN is the driving force behind policies that seek to change the military culture, increase opportunities for women, eliminate sexual violence, and adequately address the needs of women veterans. In order to make the biggest difference for our members, we must prioritize legislation and continue to be a bold voice for servicemembers in this country. Our top priorities at SWAN that strongly impact our servicewomen and women veterans are the following:

  • Ensuring properly-fitted Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The services must provide properly-fitting body armor, helmets, adjustable ruck sacks, etc. to servicewomen for training and deployments. This includes the research and issue of the fitted equipment as well as a robust supply chain and inventory to ensure that servicewomen have access to the correctly-fitted gear.
    • S.2970 Female Body Armor Modernization Act
    • H.R. 5491 Body Armor for Females Modernization Act
  • Protect healthcare access for servicewomen through Defense Health Agency (DHA) overhaul. As the DHA overhauls military healthcare to focus on readiness, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) must study how this overhaul plan will affect the health and readiness of active-duty women at facilities where over 80% of patients will be men.
  • Prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
  • Eliminating sexual assault and harassment as barriers to women veterans’ access to VA benefits.
  • Elimination of co-pays for birth control in the VA system.
  • Passage of the Deborah Sampson Act.
  • Passage of the PANORAMA “Public Accountability on Nominations Offered that Result in Admissions to Military Academies Act of 2020”. SWAN is advocating for this legislation that includes the following measures for the admission process for Military Service Academies: (1)standardization of the academies’ gender, race, and ethnicity categories, (2) addition of outreach questions to the congressional nominations portal, and (3) an annual public release of this collected data.