Progress in Treatment of Women Veterans

The Veteran population doesn’t look anything like what it did twenty years ago, or even ten years ago. Women make up a growing number of Veterans, so VA must expand its services and resources in kind.

A recent report concluded VA has made progress to close the gap of care that has existed between male and female Veterans for far too long. New clinics, better training, and an emphasis on primary care have led to better rates of examinations for things like flu vaccinations and retinal exams.

Of course, a culture change takes some time. Female Veterans have written on VAntage Point about the challenges that still persist in seeking VA care. Many have been mistaken for wives, girlfriends, or children of male Vets. We started a campaign to help rid employees of that idea so that female Vets receive the recognition and respect they deserve.

Check out our women Veterans health care page for frequently asked questions on care, recent news, other reports, and more.

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16 Comments to “Progress in Treatment of Women Veterans”

  1. Janet Jennings says:

    I don’t think there is as much progress as this report claims. I know at my VA (Dayton); they have partially built a new Women’s Clinic that was supposed to open almost a year ago. No one from the administrative staff will answer me when I ask what is the delay in opening. Getting a “real” appointment versus a telephone appointment is near impossible. There is no treatment for MST nor PTSD related to it. I think the VA has a long way to go as well in treating women vets with cardiology issues.

    • Kay Hofland says:

      I agree with you, this is my biggest complaint, I hope your clinic will open, but in the public sector, you would not be at a specific clinic set up for women. All Dr.’s should be trained to handle a woman. I have a clinic to go to and they just expect everyone to have mental health issues, and they think that they can fix it. Well they can’t! It depends on you and you should be able to get treatment if you need it. I am sick of the MST or PTSD crap, has it really had such a big effect on people. In my opinion it is a cop out.

  2. Jim SF Ret. says:

    I’ve been retired for 15 years. I’m trying to wrap my head around this subject.

    Have we hit such a bottom of the barrel that doctors and other medical personnel can’t pick up a chart and determine a person is a veteran? I agree with the article. Something needs to be done about that. And, ALL patients should be treated with the best medical and personal skills.

    I’m in the dark as to “woman’s services”. Having raised a lot of girls, I can only imagine. For us political activists, specifics in an article would help when we are at town halls and the like. Keep beating those drums (even if they FINALLY fix your own personal claims). Let’s make sure we are “Us”!!

    • Holly Doyne says:

      The issue is not picking up a chart. As both a 33 year veteran and a health care provider – I can identify the sex of my patient. Rather, the issue is on the phone (and what is your husband’s unit/rank//number) even when I have introduced myself by rank. Or walking up to a desk prior to my retirement to check in and being told – sorry, we are taking active duty only. And I am standing there in uniform.

      The issue of women’s services at the VA comes from a number of different historical and political lines. Traditionally, the VA did not have OB-GYN on staff. The OB we can accept outsourcing, but GYN issues are common and many require care beyond that of primary care. In the era where <1% of veterans were women, I could accept outsourcing. Now? Urology is not outsourced. The VA's never offered mammograms – again, it is the rare man that needed them. For a significant number of years there was even an issue of getting the VA to pay for what is logically a normal radiological procedure.

      Some VAs are excellent, and are rapidly adapting to change. Others, I am afraid, just don't "get it." Attitudes come from the top down in each location. It is going to take time and effort to get equality in treatment.

  3. Sandra Firth says:

    I have been in the VA system since 1990. I have been hospitalized in Clarksburg WV, Dayton OH, Brecksville OH and Salem VA. I recieved excellent care in all facilities. Clarksburg has had a Women’s Clinic for several years with Gynecologist and Medical provider. They have referred me to other departments easily. WV has a large vet population so I feel we are ahead of other states in care.

  4. Trevor says:

    I can totally see this as true. Most of my friends who are in the military are actually women. A boss I had recently was also a veteran.

  5. david murray says:

    Women complaining. Trying being a male veteran. Males don’t have special clinic for men only or a special department in the va for males, so why do females. We are all veterans so treat us all the same.
    I also notice that you females still don’t have to register for the draft as males, kind of sexist and the females in congress ignore the call to get thing equal when it comes to a future war.

    • Kate Hoit says:

      David,

      Come on. The entire VA healthcare system was designed and geared towards MALE Veterans. Female Veterans require different types of healthcare—for example, I can’t get my yearly Pap test in the same area a male Vet is getting his ankle examined. You want all Veterans to be treated the same? Well that requires the VA to catch up with the times and be able to offer female Vets proper healthcare—the types of healthcare males currently receive.

      Also, we don’t determine the laws. Talk to Congress.

  6. Rebecca Selby says:

    Holly I can relate! I get the, “what is your husband’s social all the time.” And it is even worse for me since I’m single! And then when I say I’m the military member, I normally get, “YOU’RE in the military!!!” As if this is the early 1900s and a woman in the military is something so rare you want to call over all you friends to look and stare. I could understand this reaction from my civilian doctor offices, but from the VA?! Forget the Women’s Clinic’s and all that, just teach their employees that all women that walk into the VA are not spouses! That might have been the better start.

  7. Patricia Donovan says:

    I am being forced to see a nurse practitioner who does not even know what one of my conditions is nor what one of my medications is. The first time she saw me she threw up her hands and said “I can’t take care of you”. I requested a change but was told I HAD to see her because I’m a woman. I call that a farce. I’m not entitled to adequate or even knowledgeable care because I’m a woman and she’s a woman? That makes so much sense to me.

  8. I tend to agree with the general consensus of the views stated here, but as Sandra F. stated above, there are some very good VA Hospitals with Women;s Clinics. Syracuse, NY, has an excellent facility, a building totally separate from the main VA hospital and it is women vets only, with mostly female staff and doctors. I no longer live there, but again, it is an excellent facility for female veterans. WE need more!

    SFC, USA Retired in 2008.

  9. Doc Wold says:

    Let me qualify some of my bias first. I was a primary care provider on active duty in the form of a Navy Corpsman both with the Marines, and at a Naval Hospital ER. I am also a civilian paramedic, and I now work at the VA in a non healthcare role.

    While I understand the specific needs of female healthcare, we also have to look at the economics of the situation. Building a “womens clinic” in my opinion, is more of a political gimmick. Why not, as has been stated before, simply train all the primary care people to take care of them? There is not a female specific problem I can think of that would not fall into an already existing service at any modern hospital. Someone brought up the lack of a “male clinic” above, and I partially agree with him. A very common problem for male veterans that does not affect female veterans (and AD) are testicular vericoseals. Those are usually fixed by either removal, or an interventional radiological procedure. That is a highly specialized procedure…there isn’t a male welness clinic for it, they just send you to radiology. While there are an increasing number of female veterans, the VAST majority of veterans are still male, and I do not believe in this myth that we need special clinics for everyone.

    Different diseases affect different races of people as well, should we have the African American Cardiology Clinic? Should we have the Asian Pulmonary Clinic? Where does it end?

    • Mel says:

      I am pleased to say I have seen wonderful improvements in the Manchester, NH VA Hospital over the years. Improvement in care, the facility and in womens health care needs. The VA has upgraded as needs have arised and listened to their Veterans needs both male and female veterans.
      The facility is well staffed, clean, friendly and accommodates every age of a veteran that walks through the door.
      I have been a client there for several years and have volunteered as well.
      Being a voice for all vets helps for continued improvements for all VA facilities.

  10. Debbie K. says:

    I have been in the system since 1979 and baby it has come along ways. Does it still need more you betcha. I still have to ask for my female care each year. I still have to tell them that I am the VET and I still have not gotten my PTSD rating for being raped while on duty. The biggest piece of advice I give any VET new or otherwise is you have to be your own advocate to get your care. The VA is not making the money directly off you that outside doctors and hospitals get so they are not motivated to give their all for your care. Ask for yearly blood tests, ask for annual tests, men ask for prostrate exams, and always ask what is new in programs. The PTSD is the most important one for all but no one is going to offer it to you without you asking. Someone smart out there with time on their hands is going to come up with a list for the programs so we VET’s can learn what is available without knowing that we often do not know just what to ask for. signed one of the first Women VET’s from 1976.

  11. John H. says:

    Well, it looks like there’s a lot more progress to be made when Alex Horton can write this post, then turn around in two weeks and ignore the challenges that female veterans face returning to college.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/08/lonely-men-on-campus-student-veterans-struggle-to-fit-in/261628/

    • Alex Horton says:

      John, a female Veteran is quoted in the story, but I didn’t have enough space to dedicate an entire section to the plight of female student Vets. That’s an article in itself. And if you’re referring to the title, I didn’t choose it.