The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that it will implement a comprehensive plan to improve care for female veterans.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced that the VA has first begun a massive outreach effort to contact female veterans and ask them to share their experiences with the system. Callers trained to be “friendly” and “conversational” to encourage candidness ask female veterans why they are not using VA benefits, whether they are aware of VA gender-specific services, and what additional services they would like the VA to offer. Callers also offer to connect women to the appropriate departments if they are interesting in receiving VA benefits.
Shinseki said the department would use the information obtained from the calls to draft its comprehensive plan. He said the initial draft would be released in January 2012.
The Women Veterans Health Care program has made significant changes in the past few years – including providing specialized and improved service for female veterans, comprehensive primary care for female veterans, and using cutting-edge research to study the effect of military service on women’s lives – but Shinseki said that even this “has not been enough.”
The new plan will likely include a renewed focus on military sexual trauma, childcare, homelessness, OB/GYN care, and aging issues.
Female veterans currently comprise 8 percent of the total veteran population in the U.S., and account for 6 percent of all veterans who use the VA system. The VA estimates that these numbers will rise to 10 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, by 2020.