Women Veterans changing VA care practices

IRON MOUNTAIN — The fastest growing demographic in today’s military is women. They make up 14% of America’s active duty personnel.

The number of women Veterans using VA services skyrocketed in recent years, from 159,000 in the year 2000, to 390,000 in 2013.

“When you think about those 13 years, you’ve had 9/11, we’ve had a surge in enlistments” said Brad Nelson, public affairs officer at Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain. “Correspondingly then with more women in the military, they get out and now we have an increase in women Veteran’s seeking VA care.”

Younger women Veterans are coming to the VA for primary care, mental health care, emergency care and even maternity care.

“A lot of those maternity services we actually coordinate with non-VA community providers where it’s the care they actually specialize in,” said Nelson. “We do provide education, we do child bearing preparation. We do breastfeeding education as well as lactation classes.”

The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain and the seven outpatient clinics throughout the U.P. provide a wide-range of services to women Veterans of all ages. In fact, Oscar G. Johnson has exceeded the national averages when it comes to preventative care, such as breast cancer and osteoporosis screenings.

“Every medical center has a Woman Wellness Clinic,” said Nelson. “And we have 2,000 providers nationwide trained for gender-specific woman Veteran’s needs.”