Just as in physical health, it is time to note that there are inherent differences in the way that women experience the world and their position in it. Most research is done on males. Extrapolating that research to women does not work as planned. It’s the same as comparing apples and organges.
When I found this article, I was quite pleased to see that our female soldiers are at least being thought of by the powers that be in Washington. I understand that this article is a long way from having gender-specific treatment modalities to deal with combat related illnesses. But it is great to know that someone, somewhere has thought to address the possibilities.
Please read this article and leave me your thoughts on the topic.
March 30 Daily News editorial
Sen. Patty Murray has been a staunch advocate for the interests of U.S. veterans since she first set foot on Capitol Hill in January 1993. Two years into her first six-year term, the Washington Democrat became the first woman named to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
The committee assignment was a good fit for the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran who, as a student at Washington State University in 1972, interned at Seattle’s VA hospital. And Murray has made good use of it. She’s helped expand access to housing for homeless veterans, successfully championed legislation to improve coordination of services for military personally transitioning to the VA, prevented the closure of many Washington veterans facilities and, very recently, secured a new veterans clinic for Southwest Washington.
Murray’s latest legislative initiative seeks to expand and improve health-care services to women veterans. The bill’s gender-specific focus is appropriate — and, in fact, overdue. Women now constitute a large and fast-growing segment of the veteran population. They account for 15 percent of our current active duty, guard and reserve personnel. There are roughly 1.8 million women veterans. They make up more than 7 percent of the 23.4 million veteran population.
The jobs women perform in this all-volunteer military have grown dramatically in recent years, breaking many traditional barriers against combat duty. They fly combat aircraft, serve as combat medics and as combat engineers with the risky job of ordinance disposal. The latest barrier set to fall is the Pentagon policy that has prevented women from serving aboard Navy submarines.
The number of women veterans who use the VA system is projected to double in the next five years. Many of these women will return home with gender-specific physical and mental health needs. For example, Murray’s office reports that 22 percent of women veterans report having experienced sexual trauma while in the military. Women also tend to have their military service less recognized or appreciated, both officially and by the public.
Murray’s bill — the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act — would authorize an independent study of women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan aimed at better understanding the effects of the conflicts on their physical and mental health. The legislation would instruct the secretary of Veterans Affairs to study the barriers women veterans currently face in accessing care through the VA, paying particular attention to the availability of child care and the personal safety and comfort of women. The bill also would authorize several new programs, including a pilot program to provide child care to women veterans who seek mental health-care services through the VA.
This legislation is very much in keeping with Murray’s long campaign to make sure that all of America’s returning veterans receive the benefits and care they deserve and were promised. The bill merits widespread support.
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