Survey finding: VA needs to improve MST screening for women veterans
American Legion survey finds gender-specific VA medical services lacking in many areas
WASHINGTON (March 23, 2011) – Nearly 40 percent of female veterans surveyed by The American Legion about VA health care were dissatisfied with the screening process for military sexual trauma. Among those, 26 percent said they were “very dissatisfied” with the screening process, which mandates that all enrolled veterans are universally screened for military sexual trauma.
These and other findings from the Legion-sponsored survey were made available March 22 during a press conference at the National Press Club. The online survey was conducted Jan. 5-31 by ProSidian Consulting, LLC, based in Charlotte, N.C.
At the press conference, Legion officials and ProSidian staff explained results of the 67-question survey, which was taken by 3,012 U.S. military women veterans worldwide.
The survey measured 10 attributes of service quality regarding VA – reliability, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy, communication, credibility, security, tangibles and understanding the customer. The survey provided an assessment of specialized services for women at VA and wasn't designed to present a reflection of general VA services that women receive, according to ProSidian.
Among the findings: one in three female VA health-care 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. And 38 percent 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.
“Research on this subject is important, yet it's lacking,” said Verna Jones, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division. “Women represent a vastly growing portion of U.S. veterans, comprising almost 20 percent of our armed forces and representing the fastest growing population of the VA health-care system.
“The results from this survey will be used to refine The American Legion's outreach efforts (and) enhance its written and oral testimony to Congress and federal agencies. The survey results will also help identify unmet needs among women veterans and guide the development of strategic remedies.”
The survey results provided insight about the gap between desired and actual performance of the VA health-care system for women using it. Of the 2,936 respondents who answered that specific question, 63 percent were enrolled in the VA health-care system. Of those, almost 30 percent were dissatisfied with the “reliability” of health care provided by the VA when compared to private health-care providers, and more than 30 percent were dissatisfied when they compared the “responsiveness” of VA to that of private health-care providers.
About 30 percent of respondents reported that they were not allowed an appropriate amount of time with their provider to discuss their specific health-related issues, and 38 percent expressed at least some level of dissatisfaction when asked to compare the credibility of health care provided by VA against similar services provided by private practitioners. Eleven percent were “very dissatisfied.”
“We found in our survey about 66 percent of the women … not only registered for VA health-care service, but they also maintained their private health-care service,” said Adrian Woolcock, managing principal of ProSidian. “In addition in that subset, only 40 percent have ever used VA. The women veterans overall do know what their benefits are. It's really a matter of focusing on improving the quality of service provided to women veterans.”
Other findings from the survey:
Demographic information from the survey indicated that 34.6 percent of respondents were between ages 52 and 61, while 24.9 percent were ages 42-51. Eighty percent were white. More than 68 percent were non-combat veterans; the highest percentage of combat veterans who responded (16 percent) served in Operations Iraqi or Enduring Freedom.
Some who took the survey contacted The American Legion to offer details about their responses. In those discussions, the women said they didn't want a separate VA health-care system for women; rather, they want the same quality health care that men receive but tailored to meet gender-specific needs. Others said they hesitate to use VA facilities because they can't get child care on the days of their appointments.
A copy of the 82-page survey was delivered to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki by Peter Gaytan, the Legion's executive director in Washington, during the organization's 51st Annual Washington Conference.
“To move into the future, we have to recognize the changing demographics of America's veteran population,” Gaytan said. “The commitment of this organization is to take this information, stand side by side with the leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs, (and) say there's a need to listen to what's being said.
“The Legion can be the voice, we can also be the action, but we need buy-in from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the administration and the leadership in this country.”
MilitaryConnection.com thanks you for your patronage. This web site is a portal of all things military. There is something for everyone including a new job board, listing all types of jobs for military including military jobs, government jobs, veteran jobs, diversity jobs and civilian jobs,. We also feature education for military resources such as information on the newly improved GI Bill, listings of military schools in the military school directory, an expansive scholarship directory and additional education benefits that will aid you in continuing your education. If you need a personal loan, MilitaryConnection.com provides information on military loans and reputable companies that handle them.
We are constantly adding resources, content and valuable features to benefit our audience. This has resulted in the web site quickly becoming the "go to" web site for all things military. Our web site and all of the resources are free to users and we value your input. If you belong to a group or organization, we will post your press releases, special events, newsletters, professional conferences and seminars, reunions, job fairs, and videos to help spread the word.
MilitaryConnection.com has a multitude of employment and educational resources including a Directory of over 30,000 Employers, Job Tips, Columns written by top Job Coaches, our new and improved Job Board, Virtual Job Fair, jobs for military and military spouses, military jobs, government jobs, veteran jobs, diversity jobs, civilian jobs and much more. You will find military education resources information on the GI Bill, military schools, a military school directory, a scholarship directory and information on current educational benefits. We also feature military loan information. When the next tour is back home, it's on MilitaryConnection.com.