Women like Margaret Corbin, the first woman known to volunteer for the United States armed services, have been serving our country since 1779. Fighting alongside her husband at Fort Washington, her ability to adapt and overcome epitomizes being a true veteran.
In the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re taking a look at health benefits available to our women veterans.
The Women Veterans Health Program was created in 1988 in order to provide specific medical and psychosocial care for women. According to VetPOP, only 4.4% of veterans were women when the program was created. Since then, the program has been improved to increase the scope of services provided specifically to women, and the overall percentage of female veterans has grown to 8%.
The program includes health evaluation and counseling, disease prevention, nutrition counseling, weight control, smoking cessation and substance abuse counseling and treatment. Gender-specific care is focused on services like cervical and cancer screens, birth control, preconception counseling, the Human papillomavirus vaccine and menopausal support. Mental health treatments range from depression and anxiety disorders to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now, more than ever, women are a significant portion of our military. Veterans Affairs determined that the largest group of women veterans today served in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom, making up 13% of overall veterans. The VA has found that women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men, so taking care of the mental health of our women veterans is extremely important.
Women in the military continue to make tremendous contributions and profound sacrifices. Using VA-provided health services is key for both men and women in the fight to stay healthy after serving their country.
Photo thanks to kate.gardiner under creative commons license on Flickr.