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Progress in Women Veterans’ Health

By: VA’s Center for Women Veterans, Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group Summit

Held every four years, the National Summit on Women Veterans Issues focuses on current initiatives for women veterans, issues of concern to the women veterans community, and on how these issues might be addressed through legislative, programmatic and outreach activities. The Center for Women Veterans sponsored the first National Summit on Women Veterans Issues in 1996. 

Women Veterans

Women now comprise 14% of active duty deployed forces - and are becoming veterans at an increasing rate

During Gulf War I (1991) Women were 10% of Deployed Active Duty, 5% of forces overall

From WWII- Vietnam era, women comprised between 3-5% of Active Duty

Mission: Quality Women’s Health In VA

Provide highest quality health care to every woman veteran

Each woman veteran presenting at VA will be assured that her gender-specific primary care needs will be met by a proficient and interested primary care provider

Highest quality: includes privacy, dignity, and sensitivity to all health needs

Highest quality: is providing the right care in the right place and time

The New OIF/OEF Era Veteran

She is utilizing VA services: 42% enroll

She is coming to VA frequently 

45% were seen 2-10 visits

38.5 % seen 11 or more times since 2003

VHA Challenge: The total number of women using VA services will nearly double in the next 2-4 years. How will VHA best provide health services as the numbers increase?

Women Veterans Program Evolution Since Summit 2004

Accomplishments: Gender-specific care

Adoption of Performance Measures/goals

Breast Cancer mammograms > 86% compliance

Cervical Cancer Screening > 90% compliance

Bone density for Osteoporosis risk- ongoing  measures
New purchases this year, now  DEXA machines in nearly every VA

Delivery of care models:

Most frequent: Mixed gender Primary Care with separate visit to GYN (43%)

Research data on patient satisfaction with specific delivery models: Highest in women’s primary care clinics that also provide GYN care
We are working quickly towards more women’s health Primary  Care Clinics

Women’s Health Moves Forward

Dr Kussman elevated office from Women Veterans Health Program to Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group in March, 2007

Moves focus beyond gender-specific care such as Pap Smears to comprehensive care of women - and women’s health as a subpopulation of all veterans

Increased focus on quality of care issues and comprehensive longitudinal care for women veterans

Follow health of women over time and track effects of  deployments on women veterans

Earlier Eras of Service: WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I

Different Needs

We don’t lose sight of our “aging women”
Significant numbers over age 55 use VA
Cardiac risk : the number one risk for morbidity and mortality in women
High prevalence of diabetes and obesity
Health concerns of peri-menopause and menopause
Cancer screenings –breast, lung, colorectal, cervical cancers

You  Served  -  You Deserve

At VA, our mission is to provide you the BEST health care available anywhere in the country.