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Friday, April 25, 2014

Women veterans get their due at VA

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is now putting “major emphasis” on women veterans, a group where the agency “failed in the past,” according to Dr. James E. Hastings.

Hastings, director of the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System, said in an interview that the VA is now recognizing its obligation to take care of the special needs of women veterans.

“What I can tell you is that all VA facilities are making a major effort to recognize the fact that they need to increase the services that they’re offering women veterans,” Hastings told Saipan Tribune.

Hastings came to Saipan last month for a town hall meet attended by veterans and their family members on Nov. 16 at the American Memorial Park Visitors Center Theater in Garapan.

During his brief visit, Hastings was joined by VA Pacific Islands Health Care System’s Andrew Dahlburg, Craig Oswald, and Michael C. Soucie.

Hastings, who also chairs the Department of Medicine at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine, said part of the VA’s efforts to make women “feel comfortable” and “taken care of” when going into VA facilities is offering mammography services for these women veterans.

According to Hastings, the nature of military is now “changing,” with about 15 percent of the deployed force are women.

“We’re generating more female veterans now faster than we ever have before. I’m not sure the VA is ready for it but we’re trying very, very hard to do it but it’s a culture change for us,” said Hastings.

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