Female Veterans/The Veterans Administration/One Woman’s Opinion
By – Sheri de Grom

Is it a pipe dream or a reality that VA women’s health care is more proactive in some areas of care than the private sector?

Efforts have been made to integrate women’s healthcare into its own department at the VA. This approach allows the veteran to get comprehensive and integrated care from a team. All providers would have access to the Veterans’ records and in an ideal setting, can collaborate with each other.

In fiscal year 2014, 88 percent of VA female patients received cervical cancer screenings versus 74-76 percent of patients in the private sector. Only 60% of Medicare patients were screened.

Eighty-six percent of VA patients received mammograms when recommended compared to 69-74 percent in the private sector.

The number of women Veterans using The Veterans Health Administration care has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 500,000 today.

Comprehensive health services available to women Veterans today include primary, specialty, hospice/palliative, mental health, infertility, gynecology and maternity care services including 7 days of newborn care.

Pain management is being added to some Women’s Health Care Programs and hopefully it will be nationwide soon.

The Phoenix VA has recently started an eight-week mindfulness-based group training program for pain management that is specifically tailored to the needs of women Veterans. Women receive a 90-minute orientation that covers the differences between acute and chronic pain, validates the many adverse impacts of chronic pain on women’s lives, and provides education on mindfulness as a vehicle for improving function and quality of life despite pain. The “Breathe, I’ll Be OK” program is based on years of clinical research and practice regarding chronic pain, mindfulness-based approaches for chronic pain, and women’s health. It includes a focus on social relationships and unit support, as well as stretching, movement, self-pacing, control and acceptance.

I’m impressed with the progress The Veteran’s Health Administration has made with their Women’s Program. They have a million miles or more to go, but for now, it’s progress.

If you or someone you love needs help getting access to VA health care, contact the Women’s Veterans Call Center at 855-VA-WOMEN – it was created to provide women Veterans access to services for which they may be eligible and is staffed exclusively by women.

Again, thank you for reading with me and for your concern for our Veterans. They continue to play an integral part in our nation’s defense.




About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. With the way the current majority party treats women and veterans, I really feel for a woman veteran.

  2. Gallivanta says:

    Sounds like great strides have been made in care for women veterans. A good news story. 🙂

  3. It’s good to know that someone is taking care of women veterans Sheri, though worrying that others aren’t getting the same standards of care.

    • Andrea, You are probably reading we are having a real shake up in our health care. It won’t affect Tom and I, as I planned in my 30s’ to protect us. However, you never know for sure when someone is going to take the rug out from under you. I have been researching the situation with the older female veterans and their care is not nearly as cheery as that of the younger woman. Many don’t have computers and have not been trained about how to a access care. I’ll be talking about it in my next blog. Thank you so much for reading with me.

  4. Good news Sheri that I’m sure a lot of Woman are going to be grateful for, you are indeed a very Special Woman, always seeking to help others in what ever way you can, offering helpful advice, warning of problems that may affect them and just being there for others when needed, God bless you greatly.

    Christian Love Always, your friend Anne.

    • Anne – Isn’t this what Christian Fellowship is all about. I want my blog to help as many individuals as possible.
      Continued prayers to you my friend. I’ll get over to your site to do some reading; hopefully this evening. Tom is requiring more and more care, each day. Know I love you and anxiously await any news from your medical doctors.

  5. Well done post about VA care for female veterans. The VA had begun to cater to the females a bit more before I retired in 2010. It was a vast improvement over a period of a few years but had not reached it’s potential. I’m glad to read the statistics.. It’s wonderful news. Great article, Sheri.

    • Thanks, Yvonne. I hope you are giving yourself a chance to catch up with yourself. I probably should have posted next week’s blog first as I write about older women veterans and they simply don’t fare as well in the VA system. I believe the younger Vets do better because they are used to social media and familiar with how to make it work for them. A primary difference I also see is that when the older Veterans were making their way in the ranks, they were afraid to go to the doc as they didn’t want to be seen as weak or not being able to ‘cut it in a man’s world and heaven forbid they should become pregnant.’ It’s a whole new world for the female Veteran today than the Veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
      Our male Veterans also didn’t go to medical call as often during WWII, Korea and Vietnam. There’s a lot of interesting statistics out there.
      As always, thank you for taking the time to read with me and to leave a comment.

  6. Hi Sheri – In a comment following my recent article announcing my affiliation with The Mental Health Writers Guild, GP Cox insisted that I check you out and make you aware of it as well. I’m glad I followed his urging, even though time is in short supply today.

    It was SO nice to read good news right now – especially about health care, vets and women. The private sector needs to up their game where women’s health is concerned!!

    I wish you had comment “likes” enabled – the engagement of your readers is lovely to see. I usually add “attaboy”s to encourage same, since few return to formerly read posts to engage in current conversations without a notification of some sort. I know I don’t anyway.

    I see the titles of several articles I want to read in your “recent posts” list below – so I’ll certainly be back (to the blog, if not to this particular article). I’m following on GP’s recommendation.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Madelyn, Thank you so much for stopping by and of course leaving a comment. You are so right in that time is in short supply. Thanks for the reminder about the Mental Health Writer’s Guild. I’ve known about it, just never taken the time to check them out. I’ll do that. G.P. is indeed a great friend and we’ve bonded over the Veterans and many like-minded subjects.
      My ‘like’ button is activated so you should have been able to leave a like. I know sometimes i have to hit a ‘like’ button more than a time or two to get it to light up. I’m not sure what that’s about. Know I’ll always get back to a comment, it might take me a day or so as I’m a full time caregiver of my Vietnam era Veteran and most days it is indeed more than full time. Sheri

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond, Sheri. I personally relate to the time-crunch making it tough to respond to comments for days sometimes — and I’m not the full-time caretaker of anything other than a small Shih Tzu.

        TBI, PTSD and (especially) C-PTSD are among my own many areas blogging-focus and, as a military brat, I will always have a soft-spot for Vets!

        Many of my friends never came back from ‘Nam, and the disgraceful way these brave soldiers were treated on their return will forever remain a black stain on the history of this country.

        No matter how one feels about any war (or war itself), we must ALWAYS extend our support to the brave men and women sent to fight them.

        America has a l-o-n-g way to go in the support arena, IMHO.

        • Madelyn – I had to laugh when I read you were the full-time caregiver of a Shih Tzu. They can be a handfull at times! However, I love my little guy.
          I see we also have many other areas in common and look forward to reading your blogs. Welcome aboard.

          • Tinker is a VERY patient, good little guy (who makes my life worth living many days), but he does require *some* time dedicated to walks and playtime — and more than just “some” toward his care (if you’ve ever groomed a Shih Tzu, you know!)

            And now he insists on guest blogging! 🙂

            If you’ve written anything about your fur-face, jump over to Tink’s 4-Legs Meet and Greet (today and forever) and leave a link in the comments. (find it on the right sidebar – most recent 25 posts – on or near the top).

            He’s trying to gather all the i-net pets together to support each other (should we be afraid?) 🙂

      • “Likes” on *comments* are activated in a different part of your admin panel, and are in addition to activating the “like” button on the post itself.

        They appear under each comment, notifying the person who left the comment that it has been read and that somebody “liked” what they have to say — ALSO allowing you and your readers to see who else is reading – those who may not have had the time to leave a comment. (with your cursor on the comment “like”, in my theme anyway)

        Engagement on my own blog increased substantially after I activated them, and more people found me and followed – so when you can find the time, I encourage you to activate those as well. People like to be able to “vote.”

  7. Josephine Coleman says:

    If you are a Veteran, please look up Kristopher Goldsmith. He is the founder of Veterans for Higher Ground. Please join with the other Veterans Organizations to create a powerhouse in D.C.

    • Can you tell us more about VHG? Are they a political action group [PAC] or what is their mission. We have so many PACs in DC, I’ve lost count. I will check their not-for-profit status and rate of return dollar to veterans.

  8. Hi, Patti. I bet you thought I was never going to have good news to report. Isn’t this terrific news for our female Veterans. I’m so pleased to see we are making forward making progress. I hope to see more advancements in the future. They are making great strides in pain management.

  9. GP Cox says:

    I woke up this morning with you, the Ohio Military Families and Arizona on my mind and here you are with an article. I’m going to start putting the idea of Helping Hands in all the veteran-orientated blogs to maybe get then to instill a program. Should I give you as the contact or someone at LR VA?

    • G.P. – I can be used as a temporary contact but I would like to have an overall contact at the Little Rock VA to coordinate such things as where Veterans can go to get hot meals on a moments notice, shelter for the night, clothing and that type of thing. I’m not plugged into the immediate needs part of the program as much as I am the social volunteer side wherein we use you work extensively. I’m going to have 3 or 4 Veteran oriented blogs coming up in the near future – next few weeks.
      Is this the type of information you are looking for. I can talk programs but when it comes to immediate needs – that will need to come through someone at the VA. I can help round up that person for you. While my e-mail is down we may need to do some phone work. Just let me know and I’ll do anything I can. I’m home today – yeah!

      • GP Cox says:

        I believe you answered my question. I want to put the bug in their ear about starting a similar program or contributing to yours. Quite a few of my readers are veterans and some are military families. It was you, mentioning the families helping to knit for the veterans that put that bug in my ear. Let me know if you get a specific person or office they can contact.
        Get some rest since you’re finally home today!! And give my best to Tom!!

  10. Since my daughter is active military at the moment, future-VA, this is good to know.

    • I thought you would like to hear the information, Jacqui. I have another post next week regarding female veterans and possibly one more after that. I’m impressed with some of the programs I see being developed.
      Any Female Veteran needing access to VA Health Care can call the Women’s Veteran Call Center [number from my blog] and the phone will be answered by a woman. It feels so good to have positive news for a change.

  11. willowdot21 says:

    This indeed excellent news… lets hope they continue to improve. How are you and Tom keeping . ❤ xxx

  12. WOW – I’m impressed. I was all set to see some horrendous statistics and am amazed at the job that’s been done. Great!

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