VA makes effort to tailor services to women - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

VA makes effort to tailor services to women

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A color guard and wreath laying ceremony were just a couple of the tributes paid to veterans Monday at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction. 

In attendance at the ceremony -- Gioia Grasso Cattabriga -- who served in the Army for 10 years. "I still meet people fairly often that say, yes I know you served in the military but you are not a veteran.  You are a women, you can't be a veteran unless you are a man," Cattabriga said.

Cattribriga has been receiving care at the VA for decades, but it wasn't until recently that she had a place designed specifically to meet her needs. "It became clear to us as time goes on that we needed to develop a health care setting for our women veterans that was really more women friendly," said Medical Center Director Deborah Amdur.

The Women's Comprehensive Care Center does just that -- offering female vets a wide range of services from routine care, to help dealing with more complex issues like sexual assault. "We also offer support groups, education, training and various activities really focused on the women that receive care at our facility," Amdur said.

On this Veterans Day the public had a chance to tour the facility, which was designed with the help of input from a task force that Cattabriga served on.  "I think they are very open to making the changes that we need.  Women now make up about 16-percent of the military, so there will be more women veterans coming out of the services and we need more research dedicated to the diseases that are inherent only to women," Cattabriga said.

About 800 women are treated at the VA and officials say there is room for more.  A center that highlights the needs of women veterans and, in some ways, educates the public that those needs do in fact exist.  

The center has been open for about a year. Similar centers are being implemented in VA hospitals across the country.

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