Women were limited by law to only two percent of the military until 1967, and accordingly made up a proportionally small percent of Veterans. Once that restriction was lifted, and after the transition to the all-volunteer force, women’s representation in the military rose to around 15 percent in the early 1990s, roughly where it is today. The roles and opportunities open to them have also steadily increased in that time frame, culminating this year in the formal opening of all jobs in the military to all qualified women.

Since VA was established when women made up a very small fraction of the population of Veterans, it was not designed to be able to meet their gender-specific health needs. In order to ensure women Veterans would be treated equitably, the Center for Women Veterans was created by law. It has a number of mandated functions, which include promoting the use of VA benefits by women Veterans, who traditionally were less likely to self-identify as Veterans or be aware of their eligibility.  The center is also responsible for conducting outreach, disseminating information and serving as a resource center, publicizing the results of medical research of particular significance to women Veterans, and supporting the independent Advisory Committee on Women Veterans.

Our mission includes serving as an advocate for cultural transformation to recognize the service and contributions of military and Veteran women and raising awareness of the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect.

To better fulfill these functions and our mission using tools available today, we recently revamped our website. It now includes a list of news stories updated every business day, useful resources, a list of relevant upcoming events, and information about ongoing and published research. We’re also excited to highlight women when they are featured as VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay and encourage submissions of women to that program to recognize and honor Veterans.

I encourage women Veterans and Servicemembers, as well as their supporters, to check out the new site and sign up for email updates on topics that interest you.

Image of Kayla WilliamsKayla M. Williams is the director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans.

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Published on Aug. 15, 2016

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

Views to date: 84


  1. Charitina Gibbons August 27, 2016 at 6:34 am

    I, also have encountered almost the same type of treatment as you have. From having been called a “liar” by health care professionals as to my ability to walk, and treated with little regard as to my own mental health issues. I would be typing for days to relay all the strife and, for lack of a more appropriate term; abuse, by the system. Whether having to wait for treatment, a bed, or denied participation in outings offered by the partnered, VOA, due to use of a wheelchair. I can commiserate with you on so many levels. I too, am over 50 and seem to be overlooked by many of the programs offered. Being also 100% p&t, I was eligible for SSDI and Medicare, which will go into effect soon. Gratefully, I will be able to obtain a physician that I will see in a permanent basis instead of the random ones encountered almost every visit to the VA medical center. I wish you the best and just want you to know, you are alone! Blessings!

  2. Marilyn August 24, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Is the Center a building at a physical location or just this page on the web?

  3. Marilyn August 24, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Is the Center a building at a physical location or just this page on the web? I am confused.

    • Megan Moloney August 25, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Marilyn, VA’s Center for Women Veterans doesn’t have a physical location, but works with their partners to provide programs and services throughout VA and in the community. The latest news is always available on the website.

  4. Linda Eleshuk Roybal August 19, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    I, too, hope this is for all female veterans. When I had my discharge physical in 1975, the people in charge at the VA in Denver said, “Now we’ll never see you again because you are a woman.”

    I hope things have changed for the better and all veterans are included.

  5. Susan L Gotlieb August 19, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    I would like to receive the newsletter. My name is SusanGotlieb.

  6. Jersey Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate, MS-OD August 15, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    I hope this CWV is for all women veterans. I served 1976-1984 and service connected 100% P&T for a SCI, T-12 paraplegia and SCD Multiple Sclerosis. Although I h ave never been diagnosd with a TBI I can show evdence that the trauma I sustained to my left temporal area when I sustained my t-12 fracture could have been a catalyst for many of my Anger bursts which lead to my discharge.

    I wish to tell my mental health story because I survived a suicide overdose of 45 Flexural. I should not be here. I want to share this story not to place a poor light on the VHA system, but to use this as a learning experience that it is not only the post 9-11 women veterans and veteran not using the VHA system who at high risk for suicide. I was very successful after I was medically discharged in 1984 as I was no longer fit for duty in the medical field. I went on to get 3 undergraduates, a graduate and a doctorate degree as I had to support myself. I even was walking with a cane at my discharge from the USAF. I was told I would never walk again. I have gone on to excel at several positions and lost many positions due to my service connected injuries.

    My story may shed light on why there is such a high rate of Women Veterans over the age of 50 who are committing suicide. As I said, it is only through grace of the Lord and my wonderful husband as well as the private sector hospital the paramedics he called took me to and behavioral health center the private sector hospital transferred me too. I called the Crisis Line and they never returned the call they said they would do. I called to move my appointment up to my psychiatrist and was told it couldn’t be done. It was 2+ months from the date I called. I called my SCI center to be admitted as I knew something wasn’t right, they didn’t have a bed for a FEMALE VETERAN , My husband called to get me admitted to my SCI Center under the respite system as he didn’t know what to do. He felt I was a danger to myself. Being a Spinal cord injury I cannot go to any inpatient setting to received the specialized care I need. I even tried to be admitted to the Polytrauma center at my SCI Center as they would have be able to address my special needs, but didn’t qualify since I wasn’t post 9-11. I am not the only female veteran who is a PRIORITY ONE, BEING 100% P&T who was not post 9-11 who has been denied admission due to a FEMALE VETERAN bed not being available. I want to use these pitfall I can relay as a TEACHING EXPERIENCE. I am pro VHA and can quote all the services not available to me in the private sector. I worked in the VHA system in the mid 1980’s as a billing clerk in MCCR. I understand VHA directives and use them regularly to get the services I am ELIGIBLE FOR AND HAVE EARNED. I never use the word entitled to as I have earned these andI am eligible for them due to being priority one. I went on the work lastly before losing that career to my SC injuries as a Low Vision Specialist in the VHA Blind Rehab Service at 2 VAMC’s. I went onto become an Optometrist after this loss and worked in the private sector. I competed and still compete in adaptive sports andat age 54 made the First, second and fourth Warrior Games. I medaled in all 3. 2010 at age 54 2 gold, 2011 at age 55 1 bronze and 2013 3 bronze. Google me and see all my accomplishments. I am not listing this to boost, I a listing it to show I was far frombeing at risk to commit suicide and I feel the then Crisis Line (2013 was my attempt) didn’t take me seriously. I reached out and was not taken seriously. I had ended my Paralympic dreams June 2013 and in the end the real reason was, due to my Neurogenic Bowel, Iwas “Pooping” out my Effexor. Had I gotten an appointment with the Psychiatrist I KNOW all the reaching out and being brushed aside would not have made me even consider taking my life. Please feel free to contact me to prevent this from happening again and save a Warrior Sister of mine that may be brushed off as a hysterical FEMALE VETERAN.. V/r Jersey Jeanne

    • liz August 19, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Jeanne-it was so heartfelt to read your journey…if that is the right word I’m searching for. I too am a Female Veteran of the 1970 era and have had a string of VHA issues that has resulted at times that bring one to the edge. I have denied ever considering Suicide. I’ve read their statistics, and questioned “which of those Non VA Health users, were once patients,” such as in my case=my GMC and Psychiatrist advised me to purchase an HMO. I am 100% SC and will not go into details in a Public Forum.
      A lot of Money has been allocated to VHA especially for Female Veterans; for Infertility workups? These women were exposed to some nasty stuff if the VA is willing to pay for Infertility workup?
      But all this looks good to the press.
      Suicide + decreasing opioids for sustained legitimate SC injuries to Veterans=less office visits to Psychiatry and General Medicine + less Pharmacy expenses (including techs filling + mailing)= more $$ saved and can now be documented statistically (even tho twisted) VHA provides: Crisis lines at 3am; provides 1 Homeless man; provides this Utopia Women’s Chronic Pain Clinic in Utah;
      I reached out to Ms. Kayla Williams; I’m guessing as long as those statistics keep the media from talking to people like you and me, people like her don’t have to talk us and they will get their bonuses.

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