CARING FOR ALL WHO HAVE BORNE THE BATTLE: THE VA’S GAP IN CARE FOR ELDERLY FEMALE VETERANS BY SHYLA F. COSTENBADER AND LEIGH M. WINSTEAD

THE ARTICLE

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides healthcare for those who have served in the United States military. But, for many female veterans, the VA healthcare system is male-centric and does not reach or assess the needs of the many women who have served their country. Even 200 years after women started serving in the military, they are struggling to receive basic and fundamental healthcare.

This Article provides an in-depth analysis of the healthcare issues that older female veterans face. Older female veterans have specialized medical needs that the current system has not met.  These veterans face unique challenges to obtaining adequate VA healthcare from failing to even identify as veterans due to “non-combat roles” to the male-centric culture which makes women feel as though they are walking through the gauntlet when trying to receive care.

The later part of the Article examines the current state and future potential of VA healthcare for older female veterans. The VA claims it has made improvements in their system, and this Article examines whether those improvements are adequate. Also pending legislation is examined that is aimed at addressing the VA’s shortcomings when providing health care services to older female veterans.

The number of female veterans continues to grow. Congress and the VA must reevaluate the needs of older female veterans. This Article calls for a switch in the focus of VA healthcare from “him” to “them.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Shyla Costenbader is a graduate of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. Ms. Costenbader previously served as a student advisor for the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic, where she assisted in providing pro bono legal assistance to veterans, servicemembers, and their families.

Leigh Winstead is the Managing Attorney of the Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (“M-VETS”) at the Antonin Scalia Law School.  M-VETS provides pro bono legal assistance to veterans, servicemembers and their dependents in a wide variety of civil cases, VA entitlement matters ,and military law issues.