Dec 14 2009
Senator Warner hosted a round table discussion in Norfolk today with a group of military women to discuss the oftentimes difficult transition back to their normal lives after returning home from combat.
Last month, Senator Warner won passage of legislation directing the Veterans Administration to launch a study into the post traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs) that afflict thousands of military women who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Kayla Williams, who served as a translator with the 101st Airborne Division and was part of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, said that friends of hers have been told by VA officials, "You can't have PTSD because you're a woman, and women don't see combat."
However in Iraq and Afghanistan, the "frontlines" of the war are no longer as clear as they used to be, and the stress of war can affect everyone.
Williams said women often return home and assume the caretaker role for spouses and children, and rarely ask, "Do I need care also?"
Senator Warner said the VA study has two goals: to make sure that women veterans are getting adequate treatment -- and that they receive the benefits they have earned.
The group said that treatment at different VA hospitals varies, and that some are better at treating female soldiers than others, especially for those who have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Genevieve Chase, a veteran who served in Afghanistan with Williams, created American Women Veterans, a organization dedicated to bringing awareness to women veterans' issues. For more information, click here.
Senator Warner said he would push to make sure these issues are addressed by the VA:
"I'd love to say its gonna be fixed in a year from now. I don't think its going to be fixed in a year from now, but we've got to keep the pressure on and we've got to keep the focus on and we've got to make sure that these women veterans who've served so well feel comfortable claiming their rights."
WAVY-TV ran this report:
UPDATE 12/15/09: The Daily Press of Newport News was on-hand and published this report:
Warner hosted a discussion Monday at the Norfolk Public Library to listen to veterans like Chase, of Alexandria, Va., a staff sergeant in the Army Reserves who served with the 10th Mountain Division and experienced a suicide attack on her convoy.
"I had to hear straight from these combat veterans that our system is not fully taking care of the very unique stresses that (women) are under after they finish their deployments," Warner said.
The event also brought together health experts and VA representatives to talk about unique challenges that women face in war.
Click here to read the whole story.