Women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in record numbers often return from combat with health issues, some requiring long term treatment. Women's health issues are not always adequately addressed by a healthcare system that was created when military service members were predominantly male.
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Omnibus Health Services Bill Supports Female Veterans

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American women have always been dedicated servicemembers of the U.S. military. Women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in record numbers often return from combat with health issues, some requiring long term treatment.

Women's health issues are not always adequately addressed by a healthcare system that was created when military service members were predominantly male. For example, according to an audit by the Government Accountability Office, 19 military healthcare facilities were found to lack private bathing areas, even in mixed-gender units.

OMNIBUS HEALTH SERVICES BILL SUPPORTS MILITARY WOMEN

To more adequately and completely provide healthcare for military women, President Obama signed a bill increasing healthcare support for female veterans as a part of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010.

The Omnibus Health Services bill, which was passed with bipartisan support, requires the VA to train mental health professionals to care for the high percentage of military women who are sexual trauma survivors, a leading cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.

CARING FOR WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
The Omnibus Health Services bill also authorizes research on the effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on women's physical, mental and reproductive health.

According to Dr. Samina Iqbal, a member of the VA's national Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group, 34% of women return home from Iraq with more genitourinary problems than men. These problems include reproductive system disorders and urinary tract infections. These disorders may be linked to the enormous physical stress on U.S. soldiers carrying heavy gear, including duffel bags, bulletproof vests, thick boots, through Iraq's 120-degree desert heat.

WOMEN IN VA HEALTH CARE CENTERS
Another provision of the Omnibus Health Services bill is an assessment of gender-based roadblocks that women often face in the VA healthcare system. For example, the widespread perception that VA hospitals are primarily for older men means that women veterans are less likely to use VA hospitals even for cancer screenings and flu shots, even while these healthcare services are readily available to women veterans through their VA medical centers.



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