Veterans Benefits: Serving Our Women Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recommitted its efforts towards fulfilling the VA’s action plan for resolving gaps in services provided to Women Veterans. The urgency of this effort is great, given the rapid growth of the Women Veteran population. Consider these facts:
- Fully 14 percent of active duty and 18 percent of National Guard and Reserves forces are now women. In contrast, the percentage of women in uniform was just 2 percent in 1950.
- Women are in hostile battle environments in ever-increasing numbers, with ever-increasing opportunity for direct-fire combat with armed enemies.
- Women are sustaining injuries similar to their male counterparts, both in severity and complexity.
- Women are now the fastest growing cohort within the Veteran community. In 2011, about 1.8 million or 8 percent of the 22.2 million Veterans were women.1
- In contrast, the number of Women Veterans will increase from 1.8 million in 2011 to 2 million in 2020, at which time women will make up 10.7 percent of the total Veteran population.
Women Veterans seeking assistance should look at some of the special efforts by the VA to deliver services and benefits, specifically to Women Veterans, which include the following:
- Outreach efforts led by the Center for Women Veterans (CWV). (1)
- Initiatives led by the Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group (WVHSHG) within VHA that have resulted in implementation of comprehensive primary care for women Veterans.(2)
- Health Care Services for Women Veterans which includes full-time Women Veterans Program Managers (WVPMs) at VA facilities. (3)
- The development by the Office of Mental Health Services of an Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Support Team and MST program; and the implementation of national MST training for primary care and mental health providers. (4)
- Women Veterans Coordinators (WVCs) to outreach to women Veterans, promoting the use of VA benefits by women Veterans and to assist women Veterans in developing claims. (5)
- (1) www.va.gov/womenvet/
- (2) communityinformationcenter.org/VA_Women_Veterans_Health_Care
- (3) www.floridavets.org/…/WOMEN_VETERANS_PROGRAM_MANA
- (4) www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/military-sexual-trauma-general.asp
- (5) www.in.gov/dva/2374.htm