I Served in the Active Military. Yes, I’m One!

Over 280,000 women have served in Afghanistan or Iraq since September 11, 2001.

By Hans Petersen

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

If you are a woman who served in the active military service, it is important that you know that you are a Veteran. Women have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts in unprecedented numbers, making up eight percent of U.S. Veterans.

Currently, women account for 20 percent of new recruits, 14.5 percent of the active duty force (1.4 million), and 18 percent of the 850,000 reserve force. About 280,000 women have served in Afghanistan or Iraq since September 11, 2001.

Yet, when you returned, you may have felt isolated, unacknowledged and invisible in a civilian society that either couldn’t fathom what you’ve been through, or discounts your military experience as somehow less challenging than that of male Veterans. In a recent study, only 37 percent of women Veterans indicated they felt “recognized, respected and valued as Veterans in civilian life.”

VA’s Women’s Health Services (WHS) is sponsoring an “I’m One” campaign to raise awareness of VA benefits available for women Veterans through VBA and VHA. The campaign is designed to increase knowledge of what it means to be a Veteran and help women who served in the United States Uniformed Services identify as Veterans.

“Too pretty to have served in the military”

One respondent described her personal experience after identifying herself as a Veteran to others, “It’s a regular thing to be told I’m too pretty to have served in the military, let alone at war. I’ve been told I couldn’t possibly have any issues relating to war since I was a female and couldn’t possibly have experienced anything but rainbows and sunshine while deployed. I’ve been called a liar.”

“Since I was a female, I couldn’t possibly have experienced anything but rainbows and sunshine.”

Both in deployment and at home, female Veterans face challenges their male counterparts don’t. One of the most significant problems that female Veterans face, which often goes overlooked, is health care. According to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) report, 20 percent of female Veterans have gone without needed health care and continue to underutilize VA care largely because of a lack of knowledge about VA benefits and available services.

Today, women Veterans of the United States Uniformed Services are eligible for a broad range of programs and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Two VA administrations highlight benefits that are available for Veterans and their families. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) focuses on general VA benefits available for Veterans and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) focuses on health care benefits for Veterans.

A woman with graying hair smiles

If you are a woman who served in the active military service, you are a Veteran.

Benefits You Qualify For

VBA provides a variety of benefits and services to Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. Eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions. For National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers, the length of your service, service commitment and/or your duty status may determine your eligibility for specific benefits. Benefits offered by VBA include:

  • Compensation and Pension
  • Education and Training
  • Home Loans
  • Insurance
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment
  • Burial and Memorial Services
  • Additional services and benefits

Learn more about benefits you qualify for through the Veterans Benefits Administration.

VA Health Benefits

Women are becoming the fastest growing group within the Veteran population. VA Health Benefits include all the necessary inpatient hospital care and outpatient services to promote, preserve, or restore women Veterans’ health. VHA medical facilities provide a wide range of services including traditional hospital-based services such as surgery, critical care, mental health, orthopedics, pharmacy, radiology, gynecology, maternity and physical therapy.

VA provides a full spectrum of medically necessary services, based on the judgment of your VA primary care provider and in accordance with generally accepted standards of clinical practice. These services include:

  • Preventive Care Services
  • Primary Care Services, including all women’s health primary care
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • Inpatient Care Services
  • Ancillary Services Specialty Care Services
  • Emergency Care
  • Mental Health Care
  • Additional VA Health Care Services
  • Non-Medical Veteran Services

Participate in VA health benefits explorer to learn what VA health care benefits you could receive as an enrolled Veteran. Afterwards, take advantage of the VA health benefits you qualify for by applying for enrollment.

Additional Resources

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