The National Women Veterans United (NWVU), a non-profit organization was established in 2005 with the mission to ensure that women veterans and those that currently serve are fully educated and informed of their veteran rights and entitlements.
NWVU represents more than 1,840,380 women veterans nationwide providing a full range of initiatives, activities and programs that address the compelling needs of veterans and their families with special emphasis on women veteran issues of homelessness, Military Sexual Trauma, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
NWVU Board of Directors and members have confronted very sobering data about long-term health care, preventative care and dental care for veterans; in addition to the painful delays and red tape associated in awarding veterans VA Compensation and Pension benefits for physical and psychological issues that were associated or aggravated due to their military service. VA can reduce long delays for benefit approvals by accepting professional mental health practitioner diagnosis reports for veterans who are seen frequently by VA mental health staff. It appears the professional opinions are not valued even when the veteran is treated by VA professional staff. VA requires still more documentation from the veteran thus causing more frustration for the female in particular with claims of PTSD or MST.
Acknowledging 128,397 females that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Many of these women were single and gave up independent living arrangements when deployed. More than often these women come home broken and in need of intimate care and direction; which means they need assistance in reclaiming independent housing, furnishing, transportation and encouragement to get help for issues that limit their willingness to seek care from the VA due to the stigma.
Much of VA care consists of medicating for sleeping, depression, anxiety and other disorders. This treament leads to over medication and dependency; in many ways similar to the failed approach to treating Vietnam veterans.
Due to specific laws that preserve the employment of military personnel; many return to employers that are clueless of the dynamic changes that the veteran faces after leaving a combat zone. The expectation of the veteran to return to their employment in 30 – 45 days after being in a combat zone 12 – 18 months and perform at a level in which they did prior to deployment is unrealistic for many veterans. There is no legal protection for veteran’s readjustment and over time the veteran is disciplined and ultimately terminated; often with just cause due to performance expectations and code of conduct agreements. There is then an onset trigger of anger, depression and hopelessness.
The VA has vowed to end homelessness of veterans by 2015 but yet they ignore the urgency of processing homeless veterans benefit claims that may provide minimum income. Housing needs of several states with high populations of homeless veterans according to their own statistics are ignored. Available housing vouchers do not meet the urgency and needs of homeless veterans and their families. Homelessness is not a new issue nor is it unsolvable. Much of the appropriations that increased funding for VA programs were not inclusive to address the major problems which cause homelessness.
To begin to address these issues, NWVU is calling for comprehensive service initiatives. The mission of the initiative is to re-examine veteran’s current health care and propose a strategic plan to address the following challenges and ensure every veteran has access to health care that extends beyond the current provisions and time limitations. In addition implementation of improved readjustment community programs to assist with traditional well being services.
- Provide long term care to veterans at the cost of war
- Extend 5 year limitation for “free” healthcare
- Expand comprehensive preventive care
- Include dental care as preventive healthcare
- Expand clinical programs and clinical staff
- Establish regulation for employment readjustment challenges and elimination of mental health stigma.