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Before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittees on Health and Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Regarding Issues Facing Women Veterans

July 12, 2007

WOMEN’S HEALTH ISSUES

According to figures supplied by the Department of Defense (DoD), 20% of new recruits are women, almost 15 percent of America’s active duty military is women, and nearly half of them have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan (i.e., one in seven Americans deployed to Iraq is a woman).  This has particularly serious implications for the VA healthcare system because the VA itself projects that by 2010, over 14 percent of all veterans will be women, compared with two percent in 1997.  The VA has made vast improvements in treating women veterans since 1992. However, this increase in potential health care system “users” coupled with returning female OIF and OEF veterans, who, in particular, face a variety of co-occurring ailments and traumas heretofore unseen in the VA healthcare system, we believe that the VA is in need of ramping up its efforts to bring into modern times, the delivery of its medical and mental health care to women veterans.   Even today, some women continue to report a less than “accepting”, “friendly”, or “knowledgeable” attitude or environment both within the VA and/or by its third party vendors. This may, in part, be the result of a system that has evolved principally on the medical needs of the male veteran.  Reports also indicate that in mixed gender residential programs women remain fearful and unsafe. 

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