Last year 20,000 women transitioned out of the military, making them the fastest-growing cohort of veterans. Yet compared to men, they're much less likely to get their healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs. On average, they wait longer than men to enroll in VA healthcare, and at 25 percent, women are under-enrolled in general.
Military health experts say that under-enrollment is not good for women, whose health needs could fall through the cracks as they transition to civilian life and assume responsibility for their own health care, sometimes for the first time in their lives. The VA says women face greater health-related challenges after military service compared to their male counterparts, including chronic pain, depression and suicide.
To convince women that the VA is capable and equipped to meet their healthcare needs, the agency's Women's Health Transition Training Pilot began offering interactive seminars for female troops about to separate from the military. The sessions are led by female veterans who themselves get healthcare through the VA.
"(Women) do think that the VA is only for men," said Nancy Maher, who oversaw the creation, implementation, and delivery of the pilot. "They don't think that the VA is a quality place to get care. And they're just very unaware of all the health care services that VA has for women."
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