SHINING A LIGHT ON POLICY IN PRACTICE
By Diane Reppun U.S. Army Veteran and VHPI Steering Committee Member
It has almost become a running joke on Capitol Hill. The topic of healthcare comes up and at least one or two sitting members of Congress argue — sometimes verbatim — ‘I can’t get pregnant, why should I have to pay for women’s health?’ For a long time lawmakers said pretty much the same thing about woman veterans. We weren’t seen, heard, or covered by policy. But that’s starting to change.
Women are the fastest growing demographic within the veteran population and face very real challenges that are not covered through male-centered care. The Veterans Health Administration has made it a priority to address our needs — and often provides higher-quality, reliable service than its private sector counterparts. Gynecological care and mammograms may sound pretty standard for women’s health care but they take on a whole new level of complexity when teamed with the stresses and environmental hazards of active duty.
And that’s why I’m helping to kick off our new series, The Veteran’s Voice. VHPI strives to show how veteran’s unique healthcare needs are often misunderstood or misrepresented by lawmakers and the public. Consider The Veteran’s Voice as illustrating policy in practice. Through our Veteran's Voice series we’ll put veterans at center stage and let them speak for themselves. But throughout their narrative, we’ll expand upon and provide context to the programs they may not even be aware they’re utilizing. As for my own story, I’ve found that VA care can be complimented well by private care if done correctly. But without the anchor of the VA, I’m not sure that my needs as a woman veteran — with war wounds of my own — would truly be understood or treated.