Women veterans are a quickly growing group, with 20% of all new military recruits being female. Recognizing this, the Department of Veterans Affairs is making strides to better serve these returning warriors. Service to America Medal finalist Dr. Patricia Hayes, chief consultant for the Women Veterans Health Strategic HealthCare Group at the VA, spoke with Chris Dorobek of the DorobekINSIDER about what’s going on at the VA to serve women veterans.
Many women veterans feel like they’re not getting recognized for their contributions. They aren’t as visible as their male counterparts because most people think of those who serve as male, even though the number of female soldiers is rapidly rising. As of 2010, there were 1.6 million women veterans in the US, and the VA expects the latest census to reveal 2 million women veterans alive today. These large numbers need to be recognized by educating people about them. The education can happen anywhere – from the classroom to the doctor’s office.
Women also need to know that there’s a place for them at the VA. Currently, the VA is trying to get images of women serving out there and create awareness about what women soldiers have been doing with the “She Wore These” campaign. The goal is to have people see women veterans and acknowledge that they could make great workplace leaders and are outstanding citizens for their service. The culture change isn’t just outside of the VA; workers within the VA need to recognize that the women walking through the door may not be a spouse or daughter, but a veteran herself.
Dr. Hayes is making great strides in changing our perception of women veterans, earning her recognition as a Sammiesfinalist. Her official achievement is having “spent a career breaking barriers and advancing the health-care needs of women in a male-dominated veterans health-care system.”