Amy Hammons was told she would never walk again.
The former U.S. Air Force nurse and Vietnam Veteran became a paraplegic as the result of a helicopter crash in 1975. Through care with VA, Hammons regained feeling in her lower extremities and began walking again on her own in 1983. Hammons is one 17,000 women Veterans who currently receive their health care with VA North Texas Health Care System, and one of several hundred who attended inaugural National Women’s Health Week events on May 13 at the Dallas campus.
The kick-off event brought together health care professionals from Women Veteran’s Health, Suicide Prevention, Whole Health, Primary Care, Cardiology, Mental Health, PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) teams to discuss services, benefits and provide education to the fastest growing patient segment at VA North Texas. In addition, VA North Texas’ Public Affairs-led Faces of Service project captured portraits of women Veterans to share their stories and honor their service.
“We work really hard to identify the needs of all women Veterans,” said Juli McNeil, VISN 17 Women Veterans Program manager. “We provide continuous specialized initial and refresher training across the system, so our providers can deliver the best care akin to the individual needs of their women patients.”
Since 1980, women have entered the military in ever-increasing numbers. In 2009, women comprised 8 percent of the total Veteran population in the United States. By 2035, they are projected to make up 15 percent of all living Veterans.
To address this growing population, Dallas VA Medical Center is home to a dedicated Women’s Clinic that offers proactive and personalized health care that empowers women Veterans to achieve their greatest level of health and well-being. A Women Veterans Program Manager (WVPM) serves as an advocate for women Veterans and coordinates the services they may need, from primary care to specialized care for chronic conditions and reproductive health.
“VA health care for women in 2019 is a lot different, a lot better, than it was in 1980, or even 2000,” said Leslie Snowden-Crawford, VA North Texas WVPM. “Not all VA facilities offer what we do here at VA North Texas, so we take great pride in being the difference for those who have given so much for our freedoms.”
VA North Texas is also supportive of women Veterans deciding when motherhood is right for them offering a full range of services for women Veterans to support their reproductive goals, including providing Maternity Care Coordinators (MCC) for those women Veterans looking to start or grow their family.
For long-time patients like Amy Hammons, who also volunteers her time helping her fellow Veterans at VA North Texas’ clothing locker, VA health care has made the difference in her life for 43 years, from New York to Florida and ultimately, Texas.
“VA got me walking again, treated my cancer, and gave me the PTSD women’s group that I love,” said Hammons. “I can’t complain, at all.”
About the author: Jeffrey Clapper is the Chief of Communications & Community Engagement for VA North Texas Health Care System.