veterans receive veterans’ benefits and services that honor their brave
military service is one of the VFW’s top priorities. Currently, women comprise
15 percent of the active-duty military and 18 percent of the Guard and Reserve.
With the steady increase of women wearing our nation’s uniform and their
increased role in military operations, it has never been more important that we
ensure women veterans have a VA that is ready and able to care for them when
they transition back to civilian life.
To gauge how
well VA is serving women veterans and to identify areas where it needs to
improve, the VFW’s women veterans’ advisory team commissioned a survey of women
veterans to collect direct feedback from women veterans around the country.
After analyzing survey responses and direct feedback from nearly 2,000 women
veterans, the VFW has identified multiple recommendations to improve VA health
care, outreach, training and homeless programs.
the VFW Survey of Women Veterans Summary of Findings here.
majority of women veterans want VA to expand access to women-specific health
care, which includes hiring more VA health care professionals who are able to
identify and treat their unique health care needs. More specifically, women veterans
want the opportunity to receive their health care from women health care
providers. The VFW has urged Congress and VA to expand its Designated Women’s
Health Primary Care Provider model to mental health clinics and other health
care specialties. This would ensure all women veterans have access to health
care professionals with specialized women’s health care training. The VFW has
also urged VA to allow all women veterans to choose the gender of their health
Women veterans who use VA health care for family planning services are also
concerned that VA requires copayments for preventative prescription drugs, such
as contraceptives. This is counter to industry standards for private health
insurance plans, which do not require out-of-pocket costs for preventative care
prescriptions. The VFW has urged Congress to align VA’s cost share requirements
with industry standards.
The VFW was
disturbed to hear from survey respondents that VA employees continue to confuse
them for spouses and caregivers or challenge their veteran status. This is
unacceptable and the VFW has urged VA to properly train its workforce to treat
women veterans with the respect and dignity they have earned.
The VFW also found that older women veterans were less likely to use their
earned benefits and services compared to their younger counterparts, despite
being equally as likely to be eligible or need such benefits and services. No
veteran should be left to wonder what, if any, benefits she is eligible to
receive. The VFW has urged VA to conduct targeted outreach to older women
veterans who may not be aware of the veterans’ benefits and services VA
with children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless face much
different barriers than homeless veterans without children. In fact, homeless
and at risk veterans with children report the lack of childcare services impact
their ability to receive the VA health care and job training services they
need. The VFW has urged Congress and VA to ensure homeless veterans have access
to childcare when receiving health care and job training services.
Homeless veterans were also concerned with the lack of access to job training
programs and counselors who understand the challenges of being homeless. The
VFW has urged Congress and VA to expand successful employment and peer-support
programs to all homeless veterans to ensure they are able to obtain meaningful
employment and stay off the streets. The VFW wants to hear from you. If you
would like to share your experience with VA health care or benefits, email
the VFW or call 1.800.VFW.1899 (1.800.839.1899).
Do you have
questions, comments or need additional information - send us an email!