Tags: Veterans | women veterans | benefits | services

Benefits and Services Women Veterans Often Underutilize

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Jul 2015 11:48 PM

When the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) unveiled a toll-free women veterans hotline and call center in April 2013, the agency's chief consultant for women's health services explained, "We have found that women veterans underutilize VA care, largely due to a lack of knowledge about VA benefits and available services."

And it wasn't just the VA's benefits and services going unused, even as women were becoming the fastest-growing segment of both the active-service and veteran populations after 9/11.

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The California Department of Veterans Affairs reported in 2013, for example, that women veterans who qualified weren't accessing comparable state-sponsored resources including health care, student aid, employment and housing assistance, along with state help filing for their federal VA benefits claims.

Nationwide, servicewomen returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were also the fastest growing segment of America's homeless population, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported in 2011, despite housing vouchers intended for all veterans — yet another unclaimed lifeline.

Other reports found several reasons for the underutilization of services by women veterans.

Some "perceived a shortfall in health services tailored to their specific needs and were less likely to seek care in what they perceived to be male-oriented programs," the National Health Care for the Homeless Council reported in a 2012 study, "Health & Homelessness Among Women Veterans."

"Hesitance to identify as a veteran, sometimes triggered by avoidance of traumatic military experiences or a perceived lack of acknowledgement from society, also prevented some participants from utilizing veteran-specific services," wrote the authors of the "Health & Homelessness" study.

The charge that women veterans don't take enough advantage of available services has persisted. But a study published in September 2014 by the nonprofit group Disabled American Veterans (DAV) cited improvements.

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"While women in general underutilize VA health care, those who served post-9/11 have been using VA health care in large numbers," wrote the authors of the DAV study, entitled, "Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home."

"Since October 2011," they wrote, "VA statistics show that more than 61 percent, or over 128,000, of Post-9/11 women veterans compared to 59 percent of men have had at least one visit to a VA health facility."

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When the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) unveiled a toll-free women veterans hotline and call center in April 2013, the agency's chief consultant for women's health services explained, We have found that women veterans underutilize VA care.
women veterans, benefits, services
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2015-48-07
Tuesday, 07 Jul 2015 11:48 PM
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