Department Hosts 5th National Summit in D.C.
Over 700 participants plan to attend the Fifth National Summit on Women Veterans' Issues scheduled July 16-17 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki will give remarks to open the summit this Saturday, which will focus on expanding outreach to women Veterans and increasing awareness of the enhanced VA benefits and services available to them.
"With more women serving in our armed forces than ever before, this summit is an opportunity to exchange ideas and focus attention on the issues and concerns unique to women Veterans," Shinseki said. "Today, there are over 1.8 million women Veterans of all eras and one of VA's highest priorities is to continue to expand our services and outreach to ensure they receive the care and benefits they have earned."
This is the first time VA will provide targeted training, education, and collaborative cross training for its staff responsible for providing services and benefits specifically to women Veterans and their families. Participants include: women Veterans, women Veteran advocates from across the nation, active duty women service members (to include those in the Reserves and National Guard) VA employees who provide care to women Veterans, and representatives from a multitude of Veterans service organizations and nonprofit agencies. VA Medical Centers employ women Veterans program managers; community-based outpatient clinics employ a women's liaison; and VA regional offices employ a women Veterans coordinator.
"The number of women Veterans using VA health care has doubled in the last decade," said Patricia Hayes, chief consultant of VA's Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group. "This training, coupled with direct feedback from women Veterans, will enable VA to continue to enhance health care and services to meet their needs."
Today, over 200,000 women are serving in the armed forces. About 11 percent of the U.S. forces currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq are women. Recognizing the valor, service and sacrifice of America's 1.7 million women Veterans, VA has stepped up its outreach efforts to women Veterans to increase their awareness of the comprehensive array of VA benefits and programs. Women Veterans are entitled to the same benefits and medical care as their male counterparts, including health care, disability compensation, education assistance, work-study allowance, vocational rehabilitation, employment and counseling services, insurance, home loan benefits, nursing home care, survivor benefits and various burial benefits.
In addition, VA also has a multitude of gender specific services and programs that respond to the unique needs of women Veterans, including pap smears, mammography, general reproductive health care, counseling for substance abuse, sexual trauma, depression, and evaluation and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For more information about VA visit the website at www.va.gov and its Center for Women Veterans at http://www.va.gov/womenvet.