The Cultural Changes in VA Healthcare System: Serving Female Veterans—the Invisible Minority

U.S. military veterans are getting older and have been actively seeking services from the Veterans Affairs healthcare system – from veterans who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam to the most recent theatres, Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there has been an invisible, less talked about sector that is growing – female veterans.

The VA just recently created services for female veterans, and they are now being treated in veteran’s hospitals throughout the nation. Even female veterans coming out of military service are surprised to find that there are now services geared especially for them.

Today, only a third of all U.S. Veteran Affairs hospitals and clinics offer a women’s clinic for female veterans, but the VA plans to expand women’s clinics across the board. There is a surge of women joining the services, meaning more women in the military will be seeking services when they get out and when they get older.

According to the Department of Veteran affairs, women today account for 15 percent of active-duty roles, compared to only 3 percent of the military during the Vietnam era.

Since there is no real delineating line between men and women on the front lines during combat, more and more women are being killed and subjected to combat injuries and trauma. This in turn will affect their family and support systems and ultimately the VA healthcare system.

Gender-specific treatment is the ultimate goal of the VA healthcare system for women who have served in the military, some of whom are suffering from things like combat related injuries, PTSD and sexual trauma. NPR stated that there are more than 2,000 women who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and, since treatment had historically been geared for men and war stories were about men, the plight of injured female soldiers faded into the background.

Now, the women getting out of the military are being acknowledged in the VA healthcare system and the VA is actively trying to get the word out to the general public, as well as to female military members themselves. When these women get older, they will be fitting into the categories of their male counterparts in regard to their need for long-term medical treatment, health-care services and VA prescription drug benefits.

For more information on veteran’s medical benefits and how you can qualify, go to