Over the rural villages in Iraq, an American woman is a bomber pilot, a navigator, or weapons specialist for equality. She will stomp over dusty roads and patrol villages for her country, in boots not made for a female foot. American women lie on their bellies in the brush alongside the men armed and ready for action, yet she must put up with sexual harassment from her fellow male servicemen to keep her country safe. The American servicewoman may drive an armored five- ton truck and lose limbs in ambushes only to face a VA doctor expecting her to turn her head and cough.
The plight of an American servicewoman is darkened by the “bromeo-sphere” of their male counterpart. Their sacrifices are unrenowned, because Americans have a hard time accepting women as combat servicewomen. Nearly a year ago the death toll of American women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan was approximately 200. While we can only make it a point to remember the fallen, the American servicewomen who are returning home encounter harsh difficulties and less than satisfactory health care.
The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs claims to have “the largest integrated health care system, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers, and other facilities.” Integrated care is to promote and facilitate a concern to improve patient experience. This mind set is meant to achieve greater efficiency and worth from health care. Currently… the VA does not offer prosthetic limbs especially made for women, above standard maternity care, or superior mental health benefits to our service women. If Veterans Affairs has the largest integrated health care system as they claim, why are our service women treated in an unsatisfactory manner.
There are an estimated 2.3 million female veterans in America, one out of four of them have experienced sexual harassment or assault. There are 2,100 female veterans waiting for proper fitting prosthetic limbs. Many of these women rely on veterans service groups such as Grace After Fire and Service Women’s Action Network. These groups are putting up a stupendous stink over the treatment of service women; however, the VA has been aware of these issues for 30-years. It should not take another 30-years for women of the military to attain suitable health care structured to feminine needs.
As American women, we must band together and demand more from our country. In honor of our sisters who fight for our country. Instead, it would seem, the issue is getting little attention while the rest of us are planting petunias! American women need to push the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs write their senators and Congress to push them in to creating more women’s health centers, improving services, and re-educating VA staff. After all, our American service- women fought hard for this country. As women on the home front, we could at least repay our combat sisters by fighting alongside them to attain appropriate health care in a male dominated system.
This article was written by Laurell Morse, a writer for dusk magazine.