Sunday, July 4, 2010

Females fighting for freedom deserve care and respect

from Time magazine

During World War I, the phrases "our soldiers" and "our boys" were synonymous.

No more.

More than 230,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past nine years. Women account for 15% of active-duty military.

Over two million women are veterans.

Still, old stereotypes and gender roles still apply.

June Moss, an army driver and mechanic, recently told Time magazine, "I don't know where people get the idea that women aren't out there, they don't see anything, they're just support."

Another reality is that when female veterans return home, they face a "byzantine" veteran's hospital system where they struggle to get help with posttraumatic stress disorder, musculoskeletal problems, reproductive disorders, and even routine exams. They might also encounter doctors who are not accustomed to treating female patients.

The VA is trying to improve its system, as the number of female veterans being treated by the VA has more than doubled since 2004 and is expected to double again by 2015.

Later this month, the VA will hold a forum at Arlington National Cemetery to discuss the quality of care for female veterans and ways to improve access.

Already, the VA has ramped up women-only treatment centers and add all-female therapy groups.

Also added during the past two years are mini-residencies for health-care providers featuring presentations from women's health experts.

Senator Patty Murray (D - WA) says, "Women veterans have earned their stripes. They have earned their benefits. They should not feel like they're asking for a handout."

Murray spearheaded a bill - passed into law in May - that authorizes a report to congress on the effects the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had on female veterans' physical, mental, and reproductive health.

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