HEALTH CARE LAGS FOR FEMALE VETS

June 18, 2008

Health care for female military veterans lags behind the care offered to male vets at many VA facilities, even as women are serving on front lines at historic levels, according to a new report by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 

The researchers identify clear needs for more physicians trained in women's care and more equipment to meet women's health needs. 

Other major findings:

  • Female veterans aren't getting the same quality of outpatient care as men in about one-third of the VA's 139 facilities that offer it.
  • Overall, women make up about 14 percent of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Of the 1.7 million troops who have deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 190,000 -- or about 11 percent -- are women.
  • Women make up about 5 percent of the VA's population, but that is expected to nearly double in the next two years.

Female veterans have complained about the lack of women's restrooms and private changing areas in some VA centers, and the scarcity of women-only group-counseling options.

Some strides are being made, such as creating onsite mammography services and establishing women's clinics at most VA medical centers; the VA is also attempting to recruit more clinicians with training in women's care, according to the VA review.

Source: Kimberly Hefling, "Study: Health Care Lags For Female Vets," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 2008.

 

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