VA seeks to improve treatment of women vets

Kristin M. Hall/AP

Women veterans suffer more from service-related physical and mental health problems than male vets, and are less likely to seek health care benefits, according to a draft report from the Veterans Affairs Department.

Studies indicate that 31 percent of women vets have both medical and mental health conditions compared with 24 percent of male veterans, according to statistics included in a recent report from VA’s Women Veterans Task Force. The panel, created in July 2011, seeks feedback on its plan to fix gaps in the treatment and service of women veterans.

The most common diagnoses among women vets seeking care are post-traumatic stress disorder, hypertension, depression, high cholesterol, low back pain, gynecologic problems and diabetes. Women also are 30 percent less likely than men to enroll in VA’s health care benefits and are at greater risk for sexual assault while serving. In addition, they are more vulnerable to homelessness after they’ve left the military.

VA has increased its outreach to educate women vets about the services and benefits available to them and provided more training to department personnel in basic and advanced women’s health care, among other initiatives. But VA acknowledges it should do more. “Not all of our systems are equipped to address the comprehensive needs of women veterans or to provide certain services and benefits for which women veterans have a greater need relative to their male counterparts,” the draft report said.

Fourteen percent of active-duty personnel are women, while 18 percent of National Guard and Reserve forces are female. In 2011, about 1.8 million, or 8 percent, of the 22.2 million vets were women. That number is expected to increase to 2 million, or 10.7 percent, of the total by 2020. Women vets also are younger than their male counterparts: In 2010, the median age of female vets was 48 compared to 62 for male veterans.

The task force, which is accepting feedback on its strategy through June 14, identified four priorities for improving care of female vets: capacity and coordination of services; environment of care and experience; employment and training; and data collection and evaluation of services. The strategy aims to ensure VA has enough health care staff to serve women vets, improve coordination of services between the department and other community-based organizations, increase the use of benefits and services among women vets, and strengthen efforts to address the high rate of unemployment among the group.

VA also wants to tackle how women vets are treated “to reverse the enduring perception that a woman who comes to VA for services is not a veteran herself, but a male veteran’s wife, mother, or daughter,” the report said. “Women veterans often report feeling that their service in the military is not recognized or respected.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.