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Women Veterans

Narrative

As of September 2010, women comprised more than 1.8 million, or 8.1 percent, of all living Veterans who had served in the U.S. armed forces. This represents a 33 percent increase since 2000, when women constituted 6.1 percent of all living Veterans, and this percentage is projected to increase in future years.

Female Veterans are eligible for the same Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits as male Veterans. Comprehensive health services—including primary care, gynecology, maternity and newborn care, mental health and specialty services—are available to women Veterans. Full-time Women Veterans Program Managers at all VA health care systems can assist women Veterans seeking benefits and treatment. For more information, visit the VA Women Veterans Health Care Web site.

The number of women Veterans using VA health care has nearly doubled in the last decade. Of the 8.3 million Veterans enrolled in VA health care, women account for nearly 524,000.1 The proportion of VA enrollees who are women is expected to increase to 1 in 12 over the next 10 years. New women Veterans—from Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn, the change in mission stemming from Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF/OND)—are more likely to obtain their health care from VA facilities than women Veterans of previous eras.

Beyond numbers, women are changing the scope of care in the VA. Women Veterans of OEF/OIF/OND are younger than women Veterans of the past: more than three-quarters of OEF/OIF/OND women Veterans enrolled in VA health care are aged 16–40 years (i.e., of child-bearing age).2 These women are likely to be balancing work, family, and transition to civilian life. They rely on the VA to provide high-quality, age-appropriate, and gender-specific care.

Meanwhile, the proportion of women Veterans using VA health care with service-connected disability status—meaning the Veterans Benefits Administration has determined the individual has an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during service—has increased over the last decade. By 2009, more than half of women Veterans using VA health care had service-connected disability status (55.3 percent). The proportion of women with a service-connected disability rating of 50 percent or higher increased from 16.5 to 25.8 percent between 2000 and 2009.

1 Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Policy & Planning, September 30th End of Year Enrollment File (FY03-FY10).
2 VA Healthcare Utilization among Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans through 4th Qtr FY 2010, V1a, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Epidemiology Service, December 2010.

Graphs

Data

Living Women Veteran Population, 2000–2014*

Percent of Living Veterans:

  • 2000: 6.1
  • 2002: 6.4
  • 2004: 6.8
  • 2006: 7.3
  • 2008: 7.7
  • 2010: 8.1
  • 2012: 8.6
  • 2014: 9.0

*Historical data from 2000-2010; projected for 2011-2014.

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Policy and Planning. VetPop 2007 National Tables. Accessed 04/19/11.

Service-Connected Disability Status Among Female Users of VA Health Care,* 2000 and 2009**
Year Percent of Females
No Service-Connected Disability Service-Connected Disability Rating
0-49% 50-99% 100%
*Service-connected disability and severity determined by the Veterans Benefit Administration; does not include Veterans who do not use VA health care. **Based on Federal Fiscal Year (October-September).
Source: Frayne SM, Phibbs CS, Friedman SA, Berg E, Ananth L, Iqbal S, Hayes PM, Herrera L. Sourcebook: Women Veterans in the Veterans Health Administration Vol. 1: Sociodemographic Characteristics and Use of VHA Care. December 2010; p. 9.
2000 51.7 31.9 12.5 4.0
2009 44.7 29.5 20.9 4.9

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