Finding services for women veteran’s health is not always as easy as it might seem – or as it should be. Women veterans often struggle to find the services that they need in a timely manner, even within the health programs managed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Women veterans of child-bearing age and those who have served in combat areas including Iraq and Afghanistan often face tremendous obstacles in getting the healthcare and medical treatment that they need and deserve.
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Women Veteran’s Health – Waiting for Care
According to recent statistics and news stories in the last few years one in four VA facilities do not have an OB/GYN specialist on staff to handle women veterans reproductive health screenings and treatment. Female veterans are also placed on the electronic wait list at VA facilities at rates which are higher than what male veterans face, forcing them to wait for months before even minor treatment can be provided.
A presentation by the Veterans Administration also showed that women veterans were more likely to receive medications that could cause birth defects compared to civilian women who received care from a private medical provider. Unacceptable wait times for mammogram results and other testing is also experienced by women veterans when they are preferred to a private provider by community based clinics.
Mental Health Matters
Women who have served in the military have higher rates of PTSD and other mental disorders, they are more likely to have experienced military sexual trauma and/or domestic assault, and they are the ones who fall through the cracks most often when healthcare is needed. The lack of female healthcare services and specialists place these veterans at greater risk.
Local, State, and Federal Programs and Organizations
There are a number of local, state, and federal programs designed to help women veterans meet their healthcare needs. Some of these programs are designed for the general public while others are reserved for veterans. Many communities have local free or reduced price clinics that female veterans can take advantage of to get healthcare that they need.
Medicaid is a program operated by each state that offers health services to low-income individuals and families, and many female veterans may qualify in their state for this program. Each state will have specific requirements that must be met, and these requirements can vary widely from one state to the next.
Social security disability and Medicare are both federal programs that can offer financial assistance or cover the cost of necessary health services and medical treatments. Women veterans who are disabled or unable to work because of injuries or other disabilities could qualify for either of these federal programs.
Other Resources Available for Women Veteran’s Health
There are many resources and organizations available to help with women veteran’s health. Women veterans who need healthcare services must be able to get the care that they deserve and are entitled to in a timely manner.
In addition to community based programs and clinics, women veterans can also find health information, resources, and services by using the links below:
Center for Women Veterans
VA Health Benefit Enrollment
National Center for PTSD
National Resource Directory
Veterans Crisis Line
Military Mental Health
Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
HHS Women's Health
Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program
Wounded Warrior Project
Disabled Veterans National Foundation
Veterans Outreach Center
Women Veterans Health Care