Since before the Vietnam War, women have served actively in the United States military. For far too long, their contributions have been unheard and overlooked. Historically, men have served, and therefore Veteran causes and benefits have been aimed at and geared towards helping them to transition from active duty to civilian life. Our nation is just now learning how to understand and serve women Veterans.
Fundamentally, women have very different needs and experiences then men. This can be especially true for those enlisted in the armed forces. According to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs : in 2009, 10% of all American Veterans were listed as women and one out of 5 reported having experienced military sexual trauma (https://www.womenshealth.va.gov/WOMENSHEALTH/latestinformation/facts.asp). Also, the average age for a woman Veteran was 48 that year as opposed to their male Veteran counterparts of 63. The categories that women Veterans need care can range from employment to homelessness to healthcare.
Although the Department of Veterans Affairs is getting better at serving Veterans overall, they still need to understand and meet the critical components to catch up to the culture change. According to the DAV magazine, November/December 2017 (page 1), the VA should be more inclusive to women Veterans and offer a comprehensive system for women Veterans.
Some practical ways to support women Veterans include:
- Attend the local VFW and American Legion or DAV social events with a woman Veteran.
- Women Veterans that are looking for a new career- Share their resume, hire them, provide mentorship
- Do business with women veteran owned businesses
- Volunteer to assist a nonprofit that assists women Veterans (Alec’s Angel nonprofit)
- Share our events with others
- Go with a woman Veteran to the VA hospital for camaraderie and support.
Advocacy for women Veterans starts within our own homes, neighborhoods, cities and states. Get to know a woman that has served and offer the friendship that can bring change into her life.