As of September 2009, more than 1.8 million living women veterans had served in the U.S. military. This number is projected to rise to 1.9 million by 2016. The percentage of veterans who are female has increased by more than 25 percent in recent years. In 2000, 6.1 percent of all living veterans were women, while women accounted for 7.7 percent of living veterans in 2008. Women are expected to account for 9.0 percent of the veteran population by 2013.
Female veterans are eligible for the same Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits as male veterans. Comprehensive health services are available to all women veterans including primary care, gynecology and maternity care, mental health care, and specialty health care services. Full-time Women Veterans Program Managers are available at all VA facilities to help women veterans seeking treatment and benefits. For more information, visit the VA Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards Web site.
Of the 7.8 million veterans who are enrolled in the VA for health care, women account for more than 487,000 enrollees. The proportion of VA enrollees who are women is expected to increase to 1 in 7 over the next 10 years. The majority of new female veterans—from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/ OIF)—are more likely to obtain their health care from VA facilities than previous female veterans of previous eras.
Women are changing the landscape of care in the VA and not by their numbers alone. Women veterans of OEF/OIF are younger than women veterans of the past; more than three-quarters of OEF/OIF women veterans who are enrolled in VA health care are between 16 and 40 years of age, (i.e., of child-bearing age). These women are likely to be balancing work, motherhood, and transition to civilian life and will rely on the VA to provide high-quality, age-appropriate, and woman-specific care.