March 31, 2008 – Last week the VA issued a press release touting their care for women veterans. Press release here…
I questioned this information because of the large number of emails I receive from women veterans who think that the VA’s care is far from great. That story here…
I asked for, and received, many emails from women veterans regarding VA care. And, I’ll post some of those below.
But, there’s another story here.
Why would the VA jump on the issue of women’s care at this point in time?
It was a “preemptive strike” press release.
The VA knew that a bipartisan group of women Senators, including Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), would be holding a press conference on Wednesday, April 2, 2008, and introducing legislation to offer more to women veterans.
The VA looked at this as “bad news” because to offer more to women veterans means that the VA is not doing their job.
So, the “preemptive strike” press release was generated to garner media attention ahead of the scheduled press conference by the Senators.
This is an old public relations trick. I know, because when I was on active duty in the Army, I was an instructor at DINFOS (Defense Information School) where the military and civilian government agencies train their journalists and public affairs types. The “preemptive strike” press release has been part of the DINFOS curriculum for decades.
The VA hopes that their “preemptive strike” press release will be gobbled-up by the media and that the Senators’ press conference will then get little attention.
I certainly hope not.
Some comments I received from women veterans below:
NOTE: The comments below were sent to me by women veterans. I have removed anything that might identify the veteran and comments have been edited for clarity only.
From the comments posted below, and others, it’s obvious that the VA has a long way to go in caring for women veterans. I have heard VA personnel says it’s just because there are so many men and so few women in the system. Is that a good reason? No! It’s not even a poor excuse.
Before a female Psychologist: the individual got angry with me because I was overly emotionally ( in tears) while attempting to recount a MST (Military Sexual Trauma) event by a Saudi soldier. Surprised at the Psychologist’s hostility, I ran out of the office.
Before a male Psychologist: I was told there was only 40 minutes available, this was not enough time for counseling. I was given medications I required and was quickly dismissed from the office.
I have often come out of my appts. thinking because I am a women, overweight, they don’t want to do anything, but my male counterparts are given more time and choices it seems.
Male veterans can get [medication] for ED (erectile dysfunction), but the VA makes it very difficult for women to do so [get medication for sexual dysfunction] unless they have a hysterectomy or close to it and it has to be service-connected. It doesn’t matter what age the male veteran is 20 or 90. If they have ED, they get it. [But, not the women.]
As for me, I can tell you from personal experience that there is little to no outreach to women veterans. Additionally, women with PTSD due to Military Sexual Trauma (MST) do not receive the same level of care or services as men suffering from combat PTSD. And try having THAT stamped all over your records!
Female veterans would do well to make friends with other veterans who can help them navigate the VA system because the VA surely isn’t going to give you much help.
I am a female veteran with 20 years of service in the Navy. I have been diagnosed with, and getting VA compensation for major depressive disorder and glaucoma. I have also been diagnosed by the VA with a personality disorder 10 years after being honorably discharged for my 20 years of service. How they came up with this diagnosis is a mystery to me because I also had a top secret clearance most of my career.
I have asked VA mental health in both BLANK and BLANK for MST counseling. Both clinics tell me I do not qualify for MST treatment. I have never been screened for PTSD or MST. To my knowledge, I have never been given any type of personality tests. Yet the VA mental health professionals seem to think I have a personality disorder. I guess only men get PTSD.
I am frustrated with the system. I truly believe that the VA is trying to meet as many demands as they can, but they are totally swamped at this point… They need more people and more money… Other than what I have mentioned in the Mental Health (problem getting local services), I have had no trouble accessing care at the clinic in BLANK.
Trying to get regular patient care appointments is extremely difficult often taking more than three months, with six months or more being typical for female veterans. Guys get appointments scheduled more often and much easier, they also get surgical or inpatient priority. I questioned why this was so and was told it wasn’t intentional really but that’s just the way it happens. If it’s not intentional then why does it happen.
I didn’t ask to be disabled. I want my health back. I held up my part of the contract, I served honorably for 16+ years.