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 An Ounce of Prevention . . . Disabled Women Veterans, Could It Have Been Prevented?

By Robin Kazmierczak, Esq.




Currently, the military is comprised of 20 percent women. That means that by the year 2010, our veteran population will shift and become 14 percent female. It also means that the number of disabled veterans will shift as well. However, a question that should be addressed is; can some of that shift in disabled veterans, which includes women disabled veterans, be prevented? In other words, why are women, who are largely not on the front lines, becoming disabled at a rate proportionate to their male counterparts? This disparity may be because health issues specific to women have been neglected therefore rendering these women disabled veterans.

Women’s health issues are different but not disabling

Women and men may be equal.  However, there are differences between the two genders.  Each gender has health specific issues that need to be addressed and prevented.  Some simple examples where prevention is imperative are found in early detection of breast, cervical, uterine and ovarian cancer.  All of these issues could render a woman disabled if not caught in time or even prevented.  Women should have regular pap smears, mammograms, and regular screens to prevent some if not all of these issues.  Until recently, none of these issues were acknowledge let alone addressed.  A question to ponder:  Would we have less disabled women veterans if many of these female only health issues were addressed and prevented? 

Historically, the male military population is larger than the female population. Therefore, male health issues were concentrated on. On the contrary, women are taking on a larger role in our military. However, their health issues are slow to be addressed. Prior to 1988, women were not even afforded proper testing for simple things such as pap smears or mammograms. Thus, it is likely that disability for women stems not only from active duty illness or injury but also because of lack of care for regular female health issues. Could it be because of all of this women may have more chance of becoming disabled when something could have simply been prevented in the first place? Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The VA is Initiates Programs for Women to Help

 Since 1988, the Veterans Administration has taken simple steps toward preventing women health issues.  These steps could be the difference in whether a woman will need Veteran’s Disability or not.  To be disabled in the military is one thing but to become disabled in the military from ailments that should or could have been prevented is reprehensible. 

In 1988, they began by creating the Veterans Health Administration, whose mission is to “promote the health, welfare and dignity of women veterans . . . by ensuring equitable access to timely, sensitive and quality health care.”  Over the course of the following nine years until 1997, several Acts were passed that further address women’s issues; from counseling for sexual trauma to maternity and infertility.  Most importantly, to further meet women’s needs, the Veterans Administration has assigned Women Veteran Coordinators to all VA Regional Offices to assist women with any gender specific claims as well as sexual trauma.  All of these measures will enable disabled women veterans to access the system in a more efficient manner. 

These legislations and programs are all steps in the right direction for women.  No one wants to become disabled while serving their country.  However, to become disabled in the military because of a failure to provide preventive care is quite another.  I believe that the bottom line is: Let’s prevent the easy problems so we can focus on the tough ones.  

For more information on Veterans Disability visit our website at:







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