The Women Veterans Committee would like to thank the DAV and DAV Auxiliary for supporting women veterans in the State of Wisconsin. I would like to report that the Committee has been very busy in the past year. We have, as individuals and teams, attended many different events along with visiting the VA Medical Centers in Madison, Milwaukee and Iron Mountain to meet with their Women Veterans Program Managers.
I don’t know whether or not you have seen the motto that is written on the shirts that committee members wear. The shirt says Advocate, Educate and Elevate. It ends “Women Veterans through DAV.” This saying is very powerful and very meaningful to our committee. If we can get women veterans and the public to understand what that means it would be huge.
Now I’d like to go over a few statistics for general purposes. Currently women make up 15% of active duty, 10% of total veterans and 7% of healthcare users. To put that into perspective, that means there are 500,000 women in the VA system of which 63% have service-connected disabilities. Many of these women veterans are getting their health care at the VA.
Some VA health care providers are not well-versed in the unique challenges many women veterans face. Thankfully, strides are being made in the Wisconsin VA clinics and hospitals. They have special clinics and providers that are specially trained to work with women veterans and their gender- specific needs. Still, across-the-board Cultural changes are needed at many VA facilities nationwide.
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and physical injuries are prevalent with women veterans. I could give you statistics on MST, but in reality I would have to double that number due to the fact of not reporting or under reporting. Also suicide rates for women veterans have grown twice as fast as their male peers.
Many women veterans lack the support of family and friends upon returning from their duty stations. They are the fastest growing segment of homeless women with children. VA does have programs for homeless women with children.
We need to get more women veterans into Veterans Court. For five years, I have been a mentor for the Outagamie County Veterans Court. In that time, only 2 women veterans have entered the program and none have graduated.
More housing, stable employment and opportunities are needed for women veterans. We need dedicated patient advocates and program managers for women veterans in all VA clinic and hospital.
Wisconsin is getting there. I was impressed with the Iron Mountain VA when I visited. They have a private clinic for women veterans in the hospital, staffed with health care providers that are working with just women veterans. These are all solvable issues.
Recently, the Atlantic Magazine published an article “The Inconvenience of Being a Woman Veteran.” The article was forwarded to Green Bay WGBA-TV (NBC26). They contacted me after reading the article and thought it might be good for a local story. On June 7th they showed up at the convention for an interview. Past Department Commander Holly Hoppe was delegated to do the interview. She did an awesome job. NBC26 also recorded the conversations of other women veterans. The final piece will air in July.
The Committee will be visiting Tomah, Chippewa Falls, King and Minneapolis in the near future along with other women veteran community events. We generally work in teams for these events.
During our meeting on June 7th the Women Veterans Committee passed 2 Resolutions: Resolution 2019-40: Support Enhanced Medical Services and Benefits for Women Veterans Resolution 2019: Support Outreach and Employment of Women Veterans
The Resolutions have been forwarded to DAV National Headquarters for approval at the DAV National Convention in Orlando, Florida. This concludes my report for the Women Veterans Committee.