1 in 3 Female Vets Dissatisfied with VA Healthcare

John Commins, March 25, 2011

A survey of women military veterans has found widespread distrust and dissatisfaction with healthcare services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The survey of 3,012 U.S. military women veterans worldwide released this week by the American Legion measured 10 attributes of VA service quality, including: reliability, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy, communication, credibility, security, tangibles and understanding the customer.

The perception of the Veterans Affair healthcare system is dim. "Many women veterans have either chosen not to enroll in VA services, or are unaware of the medical benefits they have earned through their service in the Armed Forces. Other Women Veterans may have negative or ambivalent perceptions of healthcare delivery through the VA Healthcare System," the report says.  

"Research on this subject is important, yet it's lacking," said Verna Jones, director of the American Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division.

"Women represent a vastly growing portion of U.S. veterans, comprising almost 20% of our armed forces and representing the fastest growing population of the VA healthcare system."

Among the findings of The American Legion Women Veterans Survey Report:

  • One in three female VA healthcare users reported they were dissatisfied with their most recent experience with VA's Women Veterans Program Manager, who counsels female patients in the system. The survey suggests there is room for significant improvement for VA to provide gender-specific services such as PAP smears and mammograms.
  •  38% of the survey's respondents said they wouldn't use a VA doctor for a second opinion – even if that opinion was offered at no charge.
  •  Nearly 40% of female veterans say they're dissatisfied with the mandatory screening process for military sexual trauma.
  • About 30% of respondents reported that they were not allowed an appropriate amount of time with their provider to discuss their specific health-related issues.
  • 38% expressed at least some level of dissatisfaction when asked to compare the credibility of healthcare provided by VA against similar services provided by private practitioners – 11% were "very dissatisfied."
John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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