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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UMass: Study Analyzes Reasons Women Military Vets Avoid Using VA Benefits

A 2015 profile by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that fewer than one in three women military veterans used the Veterans Administration (VA) for health care – often as a “last resort,” typically for an emergency or catastrophic health event.

While most research has examined VA service usage, UMass Amherst assistant professor, Dr. Elizabeth Evans and colleagues focused on women vets who chose non-VA providers.

In a paper published in the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, the researchers described the factors that deterred women veterans from using VA services, including:

Some women vets described the VA health care settings as understaffed, male-dominated and inexperienced with treating women vets, especially those with combat-related trauma.

On the other hand, some women vets also identified qualities and characteristics of VA settings that were healing and appreciated, including peer social support and proactive caregivers who focus on whole health and well-being, as well as social service needs, and follow up to ensure patients get the care they need.

Evans says the VA is working to remake their health care delivery system to attract more women vets. “We can make the VA women veterans’ first choice for health care,” she says, “but changes are needed. Our study findings point to a few places to start.”

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