Archive for March, 2018


Issues Affecting Women Veterans

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Jessica Radanavong

Women are the fastest growing group within the veteran population. It is estimated that by 2020, women veterans will comprise nearly 11% of the total veteran population. The difficulties faced upon their return to civilian life are often different than those of their male counterparts.

Reproductive Health

Today’s female veterans are faced with more reproductive issues than prior generations. Studies have shown that they are more prone to breast cancer and cervical cancer in addition to other types of cancers that may be due to exposure to toxins while on deployment.

Mental Health and PTSD

Today’s generation of female veterans is the first to have served alongside men in combat. Some return home with psychological scars and may require treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders. (For more information on veterans and PTSD, read our blog, Vietnam Veterans and PTSD)

A recent study published by the VA shows that more than half of women veterans may need mental health care. Yet about 24% of the women who expressed a need for mental health care were hesitant to seek care. In many cases, they were hesitant due to fear of negatively affecting their jobs, impacting the relationships with their families and spouses, lack of childcare, and the stigma associated with past sexual trauma.

Social Stigma

The historically male-dominated culture in VA facilities can be intimidating for women and may cause misgivings about seeking care in an environment predominantly geared toward the treatment of men. This is especially true for healthcare—mental health and sexual trauma, in particular—that are burdened by social stigmas.

Sexual Trauma

Military sexual trauma is a significant health issue faced by today’s female veterans. It is estimated that about one in five women are sexually traumatized while serving in the military.

GAD Attorney Nancy Foti represented a female veteran who was raped by a group of sailors while on deployment in the late 1970s. As a result of the incident, the veteran developed a psychiatric disability. At the time of the rape, she did not tell her superiors or report the incident. As a result, the VA was not able to find any evidence in the service records that the rape occurred and denied her claim for many years, which left her feeling re-victimized.

The VA has special rules regarding psychiatric claims involving personal assault. Ms. Foti was able to eventually win the case by looking to other evidence, which indicated that the veteran suffered from symptoms of a psychiatric condition that began after the rape. This evidence included treatment records for an eating disorder and statements from family and friends in whom the client had confided to establish the occurrence of the rape.

At Goodman Allen Donnelly, we understand the difficulties facing women veterans. We are experienced and have successfully represented women in their fight for the benefits they are entitled to. Because we have three female attorneys on staff, you can be sure that your case will be handled with the utmost respect and attention.

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