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Women veterans told about VA benefits, services

The Department of Veterans Affairs took another step toward changing the agency’s culture Thursday with a forum to heighten awareness about Nevada’s more than 21,300 women veterans and health care services the VA provides to fit their needs.

Only about 40 women veterans attended the event hosted by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., at the Public Education Foundation across from the UNLV campus.

The featured speaker, Elisa Basnight, national director of the VA Center for Women Veterans, posed the obvious question:

“We have a good showing today but where are your sisters in service?”

She said women veterans need to focus on self-identification to make it known that they didn’t just support the military but they served in it like their male counterparts and are entitled to the same benefits.

“If you are not receiving your health care at a VA medical center and perhaps you are working with private-sector doctors, please let your providers know that you are women veterans because you have unique health care needs as women veterans,” she said.

Basnight, an Army veteran and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said a goal of the VA’s outreach effort is to encourage women veterans to connect with each other and take advantage of the VA’s specialties for dealing with their top five medical conditions: musculoskeletal, endocrine, cardiovascular, mental health and reproductive health.

Likewise, special needs of younger women vets include maternity care and access to services for mental health and service-connected disabilities in a private, safe and convenient setting such as the 10,000-square-foot women’s clinic at the VA Medical Center in North Las Vegas.

“I think it was about visibility,” Titus, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said about the forum.

“We are helping get the word out about women veterans and that’s the first step towards changing the culture because all these women will go out there and talk to other women. And hopefully there’ll be some press coverage and that magnifies the impact as well,” she said.

Contact Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2.

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