DAV and Women Veterans

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As the most rapidly shifting demographic within the veterans’ community, women are projected to make up close to 18 percent of the total U.S. veteran population by 2040. That estimation from the Department of Veterans Affairs pinpoints what DAV knows is a key component of future operations: women veterans must have ample, dedicated support from advocates who know how to address the unique needs of this demographic.

For decades, DAV has been actively participating in congressional hearings, testifying on behalf of legislative changes that improve the equality and availability of the care and benefits earned by those who served.

The history between DAV and women veterans has grown, and DAV will continue to enhance its support of this unique group to ensure that all veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned through service.

As part of that continued commitment, DAV’s Women Veterans Interim Committee meets during National Conventions and the Mid-Winter Conferences to discuss ways to meet the needs of this unique group to ensure that all veterans receive the care and benefits they have earned through service.


Advisory Committee on Women Veterans

In 1983, the VA established the first Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. Even before its inception, DAV supported the idea of electing a panel of well-versed advocates who could identify critical issues and play an active role in changing policies and procedures to better suit the needs of women veterans. Two of DAV’s most recent members who served on the committee were Army veterans Latoya Lucas and Delphine Metcalf-Foster, DAV’s 3rd Jr. Vice Commander.

Center for Women Veterans

In the 1990s, DAV was among the veterans service organizations urging Congress to elevate the national women’s program to the secretarial level, resulting in the creation of the Center for Women Veterans in 1994. DAV backed the nomination of Vietnam veteran Joan Furey as the new office’s first director.

“This was the first, and to my recollection, only time in recent history DAV officially endorsed a specific nominee for a confirmable position,” said former Washington Headquarters Executive Director Dave Gorman. “We did so in recognition of the emerging importance of women veterans and the role they would play, particularly in the VA health care arena.”

Women Veterans Summits

DAV has co-hosted the national Women Veterans Summit with the VA for several years, focusing nationwide attention on women veterans’ physical and mental health care, homelessness concerns and resources to help them with claims and benefits.

“We were probably the first major VSO to hold a women’s summit in D.C.,” said Gorman. “In 1994, when Art [Wilson] took over, I approached him, and he gave the  go-ahead. I would like to think that his willingness back then really set the stage for our sustained efforts and, to a large extent, the advances VA has made in women’s
health care.”

Additionally, DAV has co-sponsored both Service Women’s Action Network Summits on military sexual trauma (MST), bringing further attention to the need for policy reform that protects male and female survivors of these crimes.

“The last year has brought about a great deal of change concerning the way MST cases are handled both in the military and in developing disability claims,” said Deputy National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “I absolutely believe it is because we have all come together in this united front to push for the rights of those affected by these crimes.”

Stand Up for Women Veterans Campaign

Independently, DAV launched the Stand Up for Women Veterans advocacy campaign in 2010, which helped achieve the passage of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act. This legislation authorized a study of the barriers to health care for women veterans, started a pilot program for counseling women veterans in retreat settings, established a child care pilot program for veterans receiving health care services at VA and authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs to furnish health care services to newborns of women who receive VA maternity care. In 2013, DAV updated content to the “Stand Up for Women Veterans” special publication, which was  distributed to VA regional offices as well as numerous women veterans’ conferences, seminars and other events.

DAV has long been on the front lines of women veterans’ issues, thanks in large part to the course of action set by past National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson, who, during his nearly 20-year leadership as National Adjutant, strongly supported the investment of time and resources necessary to understand the needs of this growing population. Current National Adjutant Marc Burgess continues this legacy, guiding the development of DAV’s services and endeavors to best accommodate all those who served.

“I’m proud to say we are the leader in advocacy and providing service to women veterans,” National Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski said. “DAV is  continually working to ensure that genderspecific programs are implemented throughout the VA health care system, that wellness needs are being met and that women veterans are able to access the full range of care and benefits they have earned.”

Documentary Films

Another way DAV has educated the public on women veterans’ issues was through its support for documentaries highlighting this critical subject matter. DAV sponsored Capitol Hill screenings of the films “Lioness” and “SERVICE: When Women Come Marching Home” before members of C ongress and their staffs.

In 2013, the DAV National Ser vice Foundation funded the PBS broadcast of “SERVICE,” documenting the transitions of eight service women following devastating physical and emotional injuries.

“We have been fortunate to have a number of unique opportunities to get the message out ab out DAV’s services, and we are always looking for ways to enhance our outreach abilities,” said Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry Augustine.

National Service Officers

DAV has long recognized the unique experiences and expertise that women veterans bring to the workplace. Following the establishment of the National Service Academy in the mid-1990s, more women veterans began filling DAV’s service and leadership roles. Today, of more than 300 national and transition service officers in the field, more than 60 are women veterans.

“DAV recognizes, as an organization of veterans serving veterans, that the face of this community has changed,” said National Service Director Jim Marszalek. “We actively seek out and recruit women veterans to continue to expand their presence in our National Service Officer corps.”

Charitable Service Trust Grants

Grants through the DAV Charitable Service Trust have helped women veterans programs, services and memorials to flourish. “This includes support for the founding of   the Women in Military Service to America Memorial at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery and its related activities, as well as the Vietnam Women’s Memorial,” said Richard E. Marbes, Chairman of the Trust. The Trust has also supported the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation mentoring program and a number of women’s retreats, counseling programs and services that address the needs of homeless women veterans and their families.


  • Capt Bob

    I am very proud of our Women Service folks. Especially the Nurses. I wonder how many of them are part of the 62,000 (According to HUD) That are Homeless American veterans that are cold and Hungry on the streets of America. Remember we should “Stand up for thise that have Stood up for US.”

    Bob Eldridge a member of the DAV
    MSgt, USAAF, Retired

    • Major P

      Why especially the nurses? Asking with curiosity, not hostility. I played many parts as a USAF member and became a nurse following my retirement. And btw, I was treated for cancer this year, two lung lobes collapsed, 5 months of pneumonia, my GI system quit and then I got a lung clot. Today I needed supplemental estrogen. The pharmacy had zero (0,) nada, none, maybe tomorrow… My VA takes great care of me but I was very vocal about my needs. I am concerned about those older than I and the new ones coming back who do not know where to start. We all served; can we get some guidance about where to start in a simple format instead of 100 page cover all in 10 font?

      • Bob

        Because I was in Love with one.

  • David

    Women have to get with the men and ask for the same treatment. Divide we fall unit we stand. Let speak out together loudly, they have not heard us men yet.

  • I am concerned about employment and housing for women veterans. I saw a documentary on the TV that indicated there is inadequate help for women veterans compared to the men. I can help you raise the money you need to help these ladies + provide them with training to get them reintegrated into civilian life. prosperitycoalitionllc@gmail.com

    • Sam

      Hi, I don’t know where to begin. It has taken me a lifetime of Trauma’s to uncover the fact that I am a Child Soldier, and what training I had as one. Many times homeless, and still once again trying to figure out where I will live next. I am in Canada, yet research indicates I was in Vietnam, “n” other places as well. Now, I am still suffering from PTS. As well some type of tropical bug or something that may have been from that time exposed to War. I have gone to court and filed my own case and recently was struck down. While other victim’s from same area whom lived under Government Control as children whom lived in what some called, Orphanages, etc. I am looking for my Service Code Number as there must ve record of this in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, Canada. Is there any other’s like my history that have been successful in this pursuit of Justice and receive the Benefits etc. Deserved. I am also a person of ( MST) and thankful I found this site. I have not been able to receive much medical help in Canada since going forward with my own law suit. Any suggestions on how to get Info and or involved with this type of Trauma would be greatful! Signed …

  • Nancy Miller

    I am a member of a women’s community service club and want to plan an event to honor women veterans and nurses. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

  • USAFNurseDAV

    I am a female DAV who has suffered due to negligence & malpractice at VA. Had I not been a nurse I can state with certainty I would not be writing this today. I have to battle hours on end just to speak to someone, often being turfed around all day without results. Documentation is often not accurate; revolving doors of providers whose skin in the game is to finish their training and move on – never seen by attending although is signed off that the attending has reviewed the note and agrees – although he has never seen the patient, i.e., me…have not seen the attending since 2003 and that was a one time thing…my battles are for SC and have been fighting since in AF – there are different data bases for communications; one that is not made a part of the patient record-have tried to obtain and so far have not been successful. I have heard comments that these people would not make to a man (believe me I am not a feminist) but are not documented – in fact the patient’s words are changed in many cases and not at all what I have said…then try to get the record changed is another battle…i think the system is set for delays, like cattle going to the auction block – being herded through the stalls, being turfed around, expending so much time and energy…yet no one who professes to be an organization that “helps veterans” will even hear my story…I am a lifetime member of DAV and the only thing I have ever received from them is a form for fundraising professing to help veterans – nada…the story is the same…As I get older, yes there are many things I need to accommodate, yet who has the energy to keep fighting battles? I also think if a person has no family nor a personal advocate to help support the veteran’s battles we are neglected, as there is no one to help us fight…I do hope that other women veterans do not have to experience the issues and hassles, neglect and malpractice as I have and still do.

    • thedav

      Hi USAFNurseDAV,

      We are sorry to hear you haven’t had the best experience with DAV as a supportive organization who “helps veterans.” We take it personally because we pride ourselves on being a service organization for veterans by veterans. While you may feel that all you get as part of your membership is a solicitation know that your membership helps go towards legislative efforts for having a voice in Congress on veterans issues, updated news and happenings through DAV Magazine, service claims assistance, and much more. Admittedly, we are a large organization and far from perfect, but we try to improve our member experience efforts everyday. Your feedback does matter and we feel like we’ve failed you.

      If we may, can we ask if you got help filing your claim using DAV’s claims assistance? If you could contact us at social@dav.org with the specifics of your situation we will be more than happy to see what we can do to change it for the better.

      • USAFnurseDAV

        Hello, thank you for the reply. As is the usual with asking for help, it seems to be only about “filing a claim”. If I understand correctly, that is only the beginning. After years of finally having my claims approved, it has. So now what? What happens after the “rose”? It continues to be a fight as noted above. The system is not flexible. If a vet has an issue that falls outside the bell curve, good luck. Even today as I write this there is a breakdown in my receipt of a med. It will not be filled more than a month at a time. So every month hours are spent. The patient advocate has no medical background so really only gave me the same names/phone numbers to call that I have already been turfed to in the past. While away to the DAV Memorial in DC this last week when I returned the issue was to have been resolved; I scheduled to be home to receive it (VA will not provide a time so have to wait all day and if not able to get to door fast enough, then have to go through it the next day) and only after talking with pharmacy on Wednesday for Friday delivery did anyone say that there were no refills, the MD who ordered it last time only ordered for 3 months and I have no clue who the MD is that ordered it as I have never heard nor seen that person. It was a week late last month so was to have been on time this month. Nada. Each month it gets later so run out before receipt. I try to schedule that delivery on same day as the infusion delivery (from non-VA pharmacy) so don’t waste two days of my life waiting for a delivery with no time of arrival so really can’t leave the house….this is only one of many issues. Who helps veterans after the claim approval? There is such a breakdown. If a vet doesn’t fit the usual MO we are discounted and have a harder fight. Everyone claims to be for the vets and especially women vets but I have not had that experience. The system is broken. The turfing continues. The patient advocate is not an advocate only an administrative person who provides phone numbers of people who have already been contacted. The response was to write a letter – does anyone know how long that would take when one has multiple conditions and therefore multiple issues involving many departments and again the revolving door of practitioners? The attending has no time apparently to see vets and has not “graced” me with his appearance. Recently the primary documented that I no longer wanted to see anyone in that clinic which is not what I said. I said that the clinic “is a joke”…NOT that I did not want to attend that clinic…this is only one of many notes that are documented incorrectly. There is someone who apparently did a consult with me and filed the consult. It is not in my medical record and I have no clue who this person is who reportedly performed some type of consult assessment and reportedly is in my record. Apparently it is not for the veteran to see and at no time have I met anyone at the VA with that name. The pharmacy apparently has notations about the problems with “delivering my med”, losses, etc. That is another issue of incorrect information. I am a responsible person. The issues in delivery have been on the VA side and the inconsistencies, the revolving door of providers, etc. It also lies in terminology. Yet again, it is documented as the veteran is at fault. The VA pharmacy says they can’t mail (USPS) the med, it has to come UPS. Yet when I follow up they say it is mailed. I ask mail or UPS. The person there says it is mailed. So I ask you mean USPS or UPS. It is like there is no understanding. I have to break it down and describe the delivery company and then am told they use mail for both! How is a veteran to know how the med is coming, when the med is coming, what time of day, etc.? This is only one of many issues. What organizations help veterans after the claim finally has been approved after years of delay, loss of income, loss of hours/days/years of life fighting for benefits and the answer is they are there to help with “filing the claim for benefits”. My claim has finally been approved. It is now a matter of who helps with issues vets need to continue living a quality life without the hassles of continuing to fight and not knowing who could help with what is needed to accommodate and modify? Thank you.

  • Geniece Garner

    I am a single Mom of 2 I do work full time as a social worker however my youngest child has som medical issues and I’ve been off work since the end of August on FMLA. I’ve exhausted all of my vacation and sick time and for the first time ever I don’t know what to do. My landlord has evicted me and I have to be out by December 5, 2014 and I sadly not one veteran agency can help because I make too much or I’m not homeless. Today I was told to go to a shelter and then come back to apply but I was then cautioned because I have a son so it maybe difficult to place us because he’s too old to go woman shelters. There are no shelters or services in my area that 1) helps homeless prevention and 2) services exclusive to women veterans with children. I’m just so frustrated right now because I don’t know what to do or where to go.

    • DAV

      Hi Geniece,

      We recommend contacting our to our local NSO in your area. He or she should be able to help you with localized resources that help veterans dealing with your specific scenario. Here is the link to our NSO locator: https://www.dav.org/veterans/find-your-local-office/ We recommend calling to make an appointment and if you don’t get someone on the line as they maybe on the phone helping someone else to leave a voicemail and they’ll give you a call back.

  • Mary Schneider

    My Wife, A female Disable Veteran, was told today, By the Houston office VSO Sanchez, That they do not get needed documentations for the veterans that they only represent them. He further told my wife that, “he has more important veterans waiting for him in the lobby of the Houston Regional Office” So what we wanted was for him to contact VAMC Audie Murphy for the records that of a Fee Basis Emergency Room Visit in Austin. He said he does not do that, nor would he. Apparently he does not know his job. That is why the DAV represents Veterans, to expedite claims. Just because we live over 100 miles from his office does not mean he can ignore a Female Veteran. When spoke to him he only wanted to argue with me and would not listen to me, always interrupting me as I spoke and then refused to speak to me and the again told my wife that he had to take care of other veterans who are waiting for him. MR, SANCHEZ NEEDS TO APPOLIGIZE TO MY WIFE FOR SAYING THAT TO HER. HE needs to work with the one he is talking to who can not drive 100+ miles to his office. His job is to gather and provide to the VA REGIONAL OFFICE documents needed for a claim.
    Because of his rudeness, we contacted the People within VA who paid the bill and they told me all they needed to do was ask and they would sent. Therefore my wife requested that to happen. It is in the Mail to the DAV Regional Office Houston, Texas. If this is the only thing needed to clear up the case, they the DAV needs to get the job done. Hand Carry the information to the Rating Officer and get this done. My Wife can no longer work and it is going to destroy us without the DAV getting the job done. Respond to us with a phone number other than the Houston office so we can get this taken care of. los for Mary S4663

    • DAV

      Mary please email us at social@dav.org and we will forward your complaint and and contact information to our National Legislative and Service Headquarters in Washington, DC to look into this for you. We apologize for the inconvenience.