VA Falls Short on Care for Female Vets

by Molly Wharton
Embattled agency is also failing women.

An Associated Press review of Department of Veterans Affairs internal documents found that the VA has let down its vets in yet another way — this time, coming up short on its female health care.

The VA’s chief consultant for women’s health, Dr. Patricia Hayes, admitted in an AP interview that there were indeed problems. In spite of the $1.3 billion invested in women’s health care within the VA since 2008, the 390,000 female veterans who visited hospitals and clinics last year were met with inadequate services.

The AP review found that female vets have been placed on the VA’s wait list at a higher rate than males. Almost one in four VA hospitals do not have a full-time gynecologist on staff, and around 140 of the 920 community-based clinics for vets in rural areas do not have a designated women’s health provider. The review also found that when veterans were referred by clinics to a private facility for a mammogram, more than half of the time they did not receive their results within two weeks, as required by VA policy.

Since 2000, the number of female veterans receivING care at the VA has more than doubled, and the health-care system clearly has some catching up to do.

“Are there problems? Yes,” Hayes told AP. “The good news for our health care system is that as the number of women increases dramatically, we are going to continue to be able to adjust to these circumstances quickly.”

— Molly Wharton is an intern at National Review.