Calif. Increasing Efforts To Ensure Care Access for Female Veterans
The state Department of Veterans Affairs in California is stepping up efforts to help employers, advocates and government agencies improve access to health care and other benefits for female veterans, the Sacramento Bee reports.
More than 184,000 female veterans live in California, accounting for 11% of the state's veteran population. Federal officials have estimated that women will make up 15% of California's veteran population by 2034.
Experts say women often do not view themselves as veterans and consequently miss out on benefits, such as mental health care, according to the Bee.
Further, women who have served in the military are more likely than men to be uninsured (Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, 11/11). Among female veterans in California:
- 61% have private health insurance through an employer or purchased directly;
- 30% are covered by Medicare, Medicaid or a government assistance plan;
- 19% are covered under TRICARE or other military health care; and
- 8% have no coverage (CalVet toolkit, October 2014).
Meanwhile, female veterans also are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, which often are caused by sexual harassment or sexual assault (Sacramento Bee, 11/11). About 40% of female veterans in California experienced sexual assault in the military, according to the California VA. Of those:
- 73% did not seek medical treatment; and
- 67% did not report the assault.
Details of Increased Efforts
The California VA has released a toolkit that provides advocates, businesses and government agencies with:
- Facts on women in the military;
- Best practices for helping female veterans transition from military to civilian life;
- A list of action items to ensure female veterans use available benefits; and
- Additional reading and resources (CalVet toolkit, October 2014).
In addition, officials say they are increasing other efforts to ensure female veterans have access to care. For example, the California VA earlier this year released an online service called MyCalVet, which enables veterans to build online profiles based on their needs. Users are directed to the nearest health care, education and housing services.
In addition, experts say that women's health clinics that are unaffiliated with VA hospitals are becoming increasingly important as the number of women using VA health care services grows by nearly 9% each year.
Gina Maiocco, an Air Force veteran and associate professor at West Virginia University, said, "As more women veterans use the system, you'll see more change" (Sacramento Bee, 11/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.