A few years back, Sarah Maples published a now widely circulated article titled “The Inconvenience of Being a Woman Veteran” in The Atlantic. In penning the article, the former Air Force intelligence officer shed some light on the various challenges women veterans encounter in civilian life that the general (male) public does not have to consider or confront.
For example, she explains that many other women veterans feel “slighted in comparison to their male counterparts” when it comes to promotions and other opportunities within the military. She says many women veterans feel slighted by the general public as well, citing a study in which 74% of participants said they do not feel recognized for their military service.
With more than 2 million living women veterans in the United States (10% of the overall veteran population), it’s important for us to recognize the challenges women face in both military and civilian life.
So, we were inspired to add to Sarah Maples’ list.
A few more challenges of being a women veteran
Here are a few inconveniences (and serious challenges) some women veterans face that often go undiscussed:
- Mental health disorders — In a survey conducted by the Service Women’s Action Network, 49% of women participants reported that some aspect of bias, harassment or assault during military service has negatively affected their mental health. Another 10% said that combat deployment had negatively affected their mental health. Only 11% of participants said that their military service had an exclusively positive impact on their mental health.
- Increased risk of suicide — Suicide rates are devastatingly high in the veteran community apart from gender, with 17.2 veterans dying to suicide every day. Veteran women are 250% more likely to die by suicide than civilian women.
- The invisible load of motherhood — An article on MilitaryTimes.com reports that women veterans are more likely to be single parents than male veterans. Finding affordable childcare while transitioning back into civilian life can prove to be one of the biggest inconveniences women veterans face.
- Lack of community — Women veterans may have trouble meeting people in real life who can relate to their experience being a woman in the military. In the same MilitaryTimes article referenced above, former intelligence analyst Jodie M. Grenier says, “Though the number of women veterans is increasing, there are still so few that they lack a natural peer support network, which can be an emotional challenge.”
- Gender-based discrimination at the VA — Only 8% of women veterans use healthcare at the VA, with many reporting that they feel discriminated against and face harassment in VA medical centers. While some medical centers have opened women-only wings and designed special resources for women veterans, it is not yet widespread practice.
Valor: Working to provide better healthcare for women vets
Valor Healthcare understands the inconveniences of being a woman veteran. As the country’s largest operator of VA community-based outpatient clinics, we employ many women veterans and are devoted to serving our nation’s heroes. Contact us today to learn how we can help you provide more customized care for your patients.