In a report issued last month, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) concluded that the VA is woefully unprepared for the surge of female veterans trying to access their system and obtain quality and timely care. What a surprise. Why is the VA always caught flat-footed?

The VA’s services for women’s health needs are highly fragmented. Few VA facilities are able to serve all of a woman’s health care needs in one place. Consequently, patients need to travel to multiple facilities to get all of their health care issues addressed. Indeed, the VA recognized this in 2003 and mandated that all VA hospitals and clinics provide basic women’s services – but only where it was feasible. Talk about an edict with no teeth! Six years later and comprehensive women’s primary care clinics are still scarce, with only 14 percent of them providing a one-stop shop for women veterans.

Adding to this inconvenience is the inaccessibility of many VA facilities, as many veterans have to travel long distances to get to any one facility – especially for those veterans who live in rural areas. As the fastest growing segment of the veterans’ population and one that is expected to more than double in the next 15 years, women veterans should be able to access quality care more easily.

I like John McCain’s 2008 campaign proposal: Give veterans a type of debit card that allows them to go to the doctor of their choice in their hometown. Why does the VA have to provide all the resources, when they have already proven that they can’t keep up with the growing demand?

For more info, read the full IAVA report, “Women Warriors: Supporting She ‘Who Has Borne the Battle,'” at the IAVA web site (

Posted by The Bunny in Policy
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  • Herbal

    Here’s a link to the report.

    When I first looked, I could only find the blog post with the same title.

  • IAVA. Not my first choice in sources.

    VA issues are not just WRT women. I live in a city of over 1 million. I still have to travel almost 2-hrs to take care of my VA issues.

    There are very good people in the VA – but due to personnel issues – they have a h311 of a time getting rid of the bad ones that turn a simple process into a bureaucratic nightmare.

    Take out the fact that I am male – and so far my experience with the VA goes – is exactly as described above.

    This spin out of IAVA is roughly in line with “Earth to explode tomorrow – women hardest hit.”

    If you want to help the VA – help them upgrade their personnel policies and bureaucracy. If you do that, the good people in the VA will be able to concentrate on doing the right thing.

  • The Bunny

    Good points Salamander. I’m a lay person when it comes to the VA (I’m a veteran, but I’ve never considered using the VA), but I just think the bureaucratic problems there are too entrenched. You’re right: good care, bad system. I’m a firm believer in tapping into existing resources rather than reinventing the wheel. So, if the private sector can augment the government and fill in the gaps in need, why not? (You’ll see that tends to a be a theme in my posts.)