National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)

24/7 Mental Health Access Line: 800-854-7771

Military & Veterans Benefits Line: 877-4LA-VETS (8387)

Challenges Faced by Women Veterans

Transitioning and Reentry

  • Currently numbering at 2.2 million, women are the fastest-growing group of veterans.
  • Women veterans often do not self-identify as veterans.
  • The high number of deployments (5-9) has created an unprecedented burden on the family system.
  • Many military spouses opt out of the workforce because of conditions unique to the military lifestyle, leaving the spouse at a disadvantage (through employment and education) once the member has left the military.

Mental Health

  • 1 in 5 women veterans have reported experiencing Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Women veterans who have suffered from MST are 5 to 8 times more likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) compared to those with no history of MST.
  • Women are twice as likely than men to develop PTSD.
  • Women veterans are more likely to commit suicide than their civilian female counterparts.
  • Since 2006, the number of women veterans who are homeless has more than doubled. Often these veterans are single parents, with children who are impacted by lack of available services for women.

Physical Health

  • In FY 2010, PTSD, hypertension, and depression were the top three diagnostic categories for women veterans treated at Veteran Affairs hospitals.
  • Approximately 83% of women veterans receive their health care from non-VA practices. Reasons for refraining from VA services include a lack of self-identifying as veterans and believe the VA provides male-centered care. Case in point, only 16% of VA Peer Support Program have certified counselors that are women.

Studies have shown that using a multi-disciplinary approach on mental health assists in treatment and recovery. Managing symptoms through pharmacological treatment and/or isolated group or individual therapy is not enough. Those living with symptoms of mental illness need access to additional avenues of treatment, allowing for therapeutic healing, creative expression, feelings of inclusion, and community celebration.

References & Resources
Statistics – https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/docs/Women_Veterans_Fact_Sheet_508.pdf
Military Sexual Trauma – https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/mentalhealth/msthome/index.asp
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – https://www.ptsd.va.gov/
Women Veterans Health Care – https://www.womenshealth.va.gov/
Military and Veterans Affairs – http://mva.lacounty.gov/
Medicare Plans – Patient Resource Center – https://www.medicareplans.com/va-military-and-medicare-benefits-resource/