Female Veterans and Health Care: No Laughing Matter
The terms "military," "veteran," "soldier" and "officer" do not flag gender. With women comprising 10% of veterans, 20% of new recruits, 15% of active duty and 18% of reservists, the "GI Joe" military persona is a dated reflection of the 21st Century United States service member. Continuing in the tradition of challenging significant matters via humor, late night host Samantha Bee's show Full Frontal debuted by highlighting the fractures in delivering women's health care within the V.A. sytem.
Dr. Jackie Maffucci, Research Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, understands the mixed bag of support currently available to female service members. Cited in Variety she states, "This generation of women veterans is strong and proud. But they’re also tired of being forgotten, defending their service or struggling to get the benefits that they have earned because they don’t look like a veteran or sound like a veteran."
Catering to the health needs of female service members, requires a gender-aware focus on reproductive, endocrine, cardiovascular and mental health, amongst others. In a New York Times Op-Ed, Helen Thorpe writes that "the problem is not will, it's money." The funding shapes a medical budget providing care to male and female service members unique needs.
Combat readiness is one variable Americans often hear regarding the military. However, the reality is that truly Supporting Our Troops extends beyond the battle into daily life. The term "Our Troops" is gender neutral; but they live as male, female and transgender service members. They require adequate health care for their commitment to country without an explanation, back-story or substitution.