FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 21, 2009
Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, May 20, 2009, Bob Filner (D-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, held a roundtable to address and assess the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide the right services to the country’s 1.8 million women veterans. The roundtable format allows participants from veteran service organizations, representatives of the VA, and interested stakeholders to come together to indentify the specific issues facing women veterans. http://veterans.house.gov/news/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=411
“Today we are on the forefront of embracing the needs of all veterans – not just the men,” said Chairman Filner as he opened the roundtable for discussion. “We know that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have seen the unprecedented call up of the National Guard and Reserve components. Today, women serve in the Guard and Reserve at a rate of over 17 percent which is 3 percent higher than that of the active duty military. We also know that women are serving in combat conditions right along side their male counterparts, which raises a whole new set of issues for these veterans.”
Participants discussed a number of issues that solely affect women or impact female veterans differently than male veterans. Broadly, the need was raised for a coordinated and national effort to provide programs and services for women throughout the VA. Although new services are being developed and implemented, the need is immediate for newly returning female veterans.
Secondly, there was a call for increased training for administrative and medical VA personnel. According to Anuradha K. Bhagwati, Executive Director of Service Women’s Action Network, “Many women veterans receive inferior treatment at hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Attending a VA medical appointment as a women veteran can be a traumatic experience. VA employees sometimes fail to acknowledge the prevalence of servicewomen throughout the armed forces, forcing women to ‘prove’ their veteran status.”