Task force offers plan to make VA more female friendly

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs’ task force on women veterans this month offered its plans for making the health and benefits system more female friendly. The report offers 23 suggestions spanning facility setup, research and treatment priorities, and better data collection, all with the goal of “continuously improving services for women veterans.”

Now, the department is looking for feedback from the public. Veterans and their advocates have until June 14 to offer their comments and criticism of the plan. Officials said a revised strategy report will be developed in the following weeks.

About 1.8 million of the nation's veterans are female (8 percent of the total veteran population), but the task force noted that the VA still struggles with providing adequate care for things like military sexual trauma and mental health issues of female patients.

In addition, women veterans are more likely to end up homeless than their male counterparts and have lower enrollment in VA health care programs, both discouraging trends.

The recommendations include assessing all VA health facilities to ensure that they meet requirements for female patients’ privacy, training staff on specific medical needs of those veterans, creating a “women veterans' employment plan” for the department and developing better metrics to track the success of those programs.

The report and comments forms are available online at www.regulations.gov, under the search term “women veterans.”

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