Its evolution in service to our Women Veterans
Women continue to be the fastest growing subgroup of U.S. veterans as reported by the Veteran’s Administration. In 1980, the U.S. Census Bureau began asking women about their military service with results showing women veterans were less than 3% of the U.S. veteran population. Based upon data projections from the Congressional Research Service, the female veteran population is projected to increase from 9.4% in 2015 to 16.3% of the U.S. veteran population by 2043.
The number of women veterans requesting VA care in 2018 reflected an increase by 22.1% as reported by the VA report, FY 2020 Funding and FY 2021 Advance Appropriations: Volume II Medical Programs and Information Technology Programs, https://go.usa.gov/xdDRn. Suicide among female veterans reflect an 85.2% increase compared to 30.5% among men. Review of the data found women veterans seeking services from the VA 2.7 years after their military service or when mental and or physical health concerns became significant and warranted more support care.
In 2017, the VA Women’s Health Transition Pilot Program was started with two pilot sessions. It then began with a 9-month pilot period at limited, targeted installations. Data collected provided feedback which resulted in the DOD ‘Encouragement of Participation in Women’s Health Transition Training Pilot Program’ report submitted to the Committee of Armed Services and Veteran’s Affairs Senate and House of Representatives in September 2020. Section 738(c) of the Public Law (P.L.)116-92, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, required the report to include data on participation, metrics, barriers, and legislation recommendations to improve or expand the pilot program.
The transition to recognize and offer a Women’s Health Transition Training course focused on gender-specific health care services for Women Veterans through the Veterans Health Administration is an important outcome from data, studies, feedback, and pilot programs. Service members participating in Transition Assistance Program (TAP) now have better opportunities to know in advance that services and support are available for them and specific to their needs.
Military service members benefit early being educated and aware these services will be available to them upon their transition and how to access them. Often service members think of the present and wait to learn of programs later. Including information to incoming members is as important as educating transitioning and retiring members.
The virtual service platform for access offers many benefits to servicewomen and women Veterans. Encouraging email subscriptions to keep informed may also be a valuable means of staying updated for all current servicewomen and women Veterans. Care and knowledge to access for Veterans begins early so when you are ready you will be better informed.
We are proud to have served in the defense of our country. We are proud to be a part of the process to research, share information and educate regarding the support and services now available to our Women Veterans as they begin their transitional journey from military duty back into our communities. We are proud to see our Nation has recognized, invested, and is committed to provide services tailored for our female Women Veterans. As stated in the bestselling publication by James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s “Great Leadership Creates Great Workplaces”, our “work group has a strong sense of team spirit” here at U.S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) to provide our customers the highest level of support possible. Our customers benefit from the ‘team spirit’ reflected in the practice, behaviors, and set of skills and abilities to be better. This translates into “staying open to new information and the ideas of others”….all while learning and sharing to provide the best information, product, and effort for IMCOM to our transitioning service members.
Women veteran service members represent the past, present, and future members of our Nation that responded to the call of mission, desire, and commitment to serve our country. It is an honor and duty to recognize and continue to serve these Women Veterans. The future looks bright as focus and support continues to be recognized and incorporated into the TAP program.
Written for Crowned Grace International Blog, July 2021
By Virginia (Ginger) Blazicko, Genesis Concepts and Consultants, fellow team member in partnership with Crowned Grace International team members.