KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

VA Struggles To Provide Better Care For Increasing Numbers Of Younger, Female Veterans

New patients using Veterans Affairs health services are more likely to be younger and women. The Associated Press reports on a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsville, W.Va., that is increasingly seeing women in their twenties who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The hospital sees nearly twice as many women it did before the Sept. 11 attacks. Administrators opened a women's clinic and are trying to take female veterans into consideration when deciding everything from the color of the walls to the size of the prosthetics offered."

Problems remain in the VA health system for providing care to female veterans, including a lack of privacy for bathing and examinations that was noted by congressional investigators last summer. "No one's quite ready for them, but female veterans have arrived in the VA's hundreds of hospitals and clinics," according to AP. "A system long geared toward treating an aging male population is scrambling to care for thousands of female veterans. They are younger, too. Most of the women who served in the recent wars are under age 40. In the last budget year, the VA saw 281,000 female veterans, a 12 percent increase from two years earlier. Women represent one in 16 veterans in the system, but in 15 years are projected to represent one in seven. This increase has forced changes in the VA's culture" (Hefling, 12/15).

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