Women Veterans Committee
BY KATE O’HARE-PALMER, CHAIR
These last few months have been busy with events supporting women veterans. March was Women’s History Month, and I hope that many of you were able to participate in programs held in your area. Each state’s department of veterans affairs has an appointed deputy secretary for women veterans. Each state also has a website that is a good resource for women veterans.
Memorial Day events at the Capitol, the Mall, and Arlington were well attended by your VVA national leaders. It was my first time being part of those heartwarming events.
Currently there are 2.2 million women veterans. Fifty-five percent of returning women veterans require some form of treatment. The traumas and transitions for these veterans affect them and their families. Women veterans are not immediately recognized by the public as veterans. Often, women do not consider themselves veterans. They will answer the question, “Have you ever served in the military?” with an affirmative, but will answer “no” if asked, “Are you a veteran?”
Women veterans are the fastest-growing group served by the VA. Services include mental health, reproductive health, sexual trauma, and other gender-sensitive issues. The VA is now recognizing some of the issues related to same sex-couples. Pilot programs provide childcare at some VA sites, as well as telecommunication for certain specialty care visits in outlying areas. A recent study in California of women veterans found that fewer than 30 percent use VA health services. Due to the current scandal about VA services, trust in services may drop even more.
June was PTSD Awareness Month and Suicide Awareness Month. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day. Several veterans service organizations have taken on the task of increasing awareness. The suicide prevention hotline 800-273-TALK(8255), as well as the mobile apps for PTSD Coach, are steps the VA has taken to help.
What is clear from the website is the consistency of the interviews with the men and women returning from active duty. Their transition is no different than ours was. Their stories will ring true for many women Vietnam veterans reading this column. We have a history of experience that can be invaluable to these returning veterans. You are a light in your community that may be needed by someone dealing with transition issues. It only takes one. Turn around, be present, and be involved.
VVA PRESS RELEASE
(WASHINGTON, DC)—Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), Service Women's Action Network (SWAN), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) released an open letter to Congress, urging the passage of Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA).
"Military sexual assault is a multi-generational issue. For decades, it has been swept under the rug yet continues to rear its ugly head. The Department of Defense has attempted to address it with tweaks to the system, but combatting this powerful enemy requires a more dramatic change," said Marsha Four, National Vice President of Vietnam Veterans of America. "Vietnam Veterans of America stands unwavering in its commitment to the resolution of this tragedy. Together, with our partners, SWAN and IAVA, we bring a unified voice to underscore the need for strong military justice reform."
"On behalf of veterans and service members, we join together out of a sense of urgency to reform the military justice system for our men and women in uniform," said SWAN executive director and former Marine Corps captain Anu Bhagwati. "Often, we see the military justice reform debate framed as a choice to support either sexual assault survivors or military readiness. Today, we want to be clear. A vote for Senator Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) is a vote for our troops, and a vote for a stronger military."
VA - Women Veteran's Research Page[ click to visit ]
The history of service of African-American servicewomen, who served in Vietnam, is reflected in the Women's Memorial Foundation Register and archive.The stories and memories included in this paper illustrate the experiences of a few of the many African-American servicewomen who volunteered for assignment to Vietnam, as well as their reasons for volunteering and the methods they used to overcome the gender and race-driven difficulties they encountered.
A MESSAGE FROM VVA LIFE MEMBER JOAN FUREY
I'm sending this out to all of you to be sure you know about the study VA is doing on the Long Term Health Outcomes of Vietnam Era Women. This is a 4-5 year study that will look at the physical and mental health status of military women who served in Vietnam, elsewhere in Southeast Asia (Japan, Philippines, etc) and those who served in the United States. They are hoping to get 10,000 women to participate in the study. I am the veteran consultant to the study. They are particularly anxious to get women who have never received care from VA, as their experience is not known. It is an important study for all women veterans, as no study has ever been done on the long term health outcomes of military service on women. Not ever, so this is historic and will be beneficial to not only us, as Vietnam era women but also to the current and future generations of women veterans in helping to improve assessment instruments and services for them (and us) both now and as they age. I'm attaching a copy of a brochure that describes the study. If you are willing to participate I urge you to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women Veterans Of Distinction