Sunday, April 26, 2015

Senator Isakson: ‘We must ensure that our women veterans … get the same services that a woman would expect in the private sector in the VA health services.”

Senator Johnny Isakson (above)  is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and his office issued the following last week (and for more on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, see C.I.'s "Iraq Snapshot" from Saturday):

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777

Isakson Reaffirms Commitment to Fulfilling our Promise to America’s Women Veterans

‘We must ensure that our women veterans … get the same services that a woman would expect in the private sector in the VA health services.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to strengthen its programs and health care for women veterans.

“Women play an important role in our United States military and the defense of our country,” said Isakson. “They fight in every capacity possible, they volunteer in every capacity possible, and they do a great job. We need to make sure we’re doing the same.”

At a committee hearing held today, Isakson noted the growing numbers of women veterans in America, pointing to the increasing need for the VA to make appropriate adjustments to its health care resources for women veterans.

“By the year 2020, 10.5% of our veterans will be women, by the year 2040, 16% will be women,” said Isakson. “There are 90,000 women veterans in the state of Georgia – the fifth largest women veterans’ population in the country.”

Citing concerns that there is a lack of gender-specific training throughout the Veterans Health Administration, Isakson questioned Dr. Patricia Hayes, Chief Consultant for Women’s Health Services, about what specific training the VA is planning to make available to ensure that healthcare providers are better able to treat women veterans, including mental health services.

“This weekend, I was able to visit the future site for the Savannah VA, and I also saw firsthand what the VA is doing in its planning for women’s services in their new CBOCs,” Isakson continued. “They’re doing a good job of offering mental health services, gynecological services, OBGYN services and the services that are unique to women that they need. We must ensure that our women veterans, when they sever from the military and become active members of the veterans society, that they get the same services that a woman would expect in the private sector in the VA health services.”

In keeping with his priorities as chairman, Isakson asked Dr. Susan McCutcheon, National Mental Health Director for Family Services, Women’s Mental Health, and Military Sexual Trauma at the Veterans Health Administration, about the measures the VA takes to ensure the privacy of and provide care for women veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma.

In addition, Isakson also touched on the issue of veterans’ homelessness, another one of his priorities as chairman.

“One in five women veterans who use VA health services have experienced military sexual trauma,” Isakson said. “Women veterans are also three times more likely to experience homelessness than non-veterans, and when a woman experiences homelessness, her children experience it with her. And it’s important that we do everything we can to fulfill that promise to women.”

View Isakson’s opening remarks from today’s hearing here.

Video of today’s hearing is available online here.

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.

Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.

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