Women Veterans Health Care

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Inequities Plague Female Veterans

By Eve Harris

(Photo: U.S. Army)

(Photo: U.S. Army)

California is home to 167,000 women veterans — the largest group in the nation. More than nine percent of veterans in California are women, and health care is a top priority for them, according to the results of a survey released last month.

Nationally, the number of women vets using Veterans Health Administration (VA) services has nearly doubled (PDF) in the past decade, and VA hospitals and clinics have scrambled to meet the needs of their new patients.

Two state agencies — California’s Commission on the Status of Women and the California Department of Veterans Affairs — commissioned the survey of more than 900 women veterans in California about gaps they perceived in their benefits. California women veterans and their advocates say that women hold a dim view of VA facilities as unfriendly, male-dominated institutions.

Most women veterans have insurance through a job or spouse or prefer to be treated elsewhere, leaving the VA to treat mostly people without other resources. About half of the survey respondents who use VA facilities said their experience was “good” or “excellent.” Those who were less satisfied described difficulties with getting appointments, long wait times, lack of staff and clinic resources, and continuing bias against women veterans. Continue reading