International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Women’s Health Care Services Marks 10th Anniversary

Posted 1 July 2004 in StressPoints by The Gender and Trauma Special Interest Group

Team-based care for women veterans in Boston, Mass., consists of integrated physical and mental health care provided at the Women’s Health Center and the Women’s Stress Disorder Treatment Team. These clinics have worked jointly with the National Center for PTSD’s Women’s Health Sciences Division (NCPTSD-WHSD), which supports research related to women’s health. In the past decade, these integrated centers have thrived by providing services to thousands of veterans and have become leaders in the scientific community. In addition, the services provided have expanded to include the Homeless Women Veterans’ Outreach and Case Management Program and the first women veterans’ transitional residence program (TRUST House) in the country. Anniversary proceedings held in May 2004 served to highlight the tremendous accomplishments of these programs in the past decade.

The anniversary event included presentations and discussions at three VA facilities in the Boston area. Presentations for providers included best practices for breast and cervical screening, and treatment for comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. In addition, there were panel discussions for both veterans and researchers. The veteran panel discussed the current and potential future needs of female veterans and was particularly salient given the growing number of female veterans seeking care at the VA. The research panel included participants from across the country. This panel focused primarily on the needs of female veterans returning from service in Iraq. The fact that female veterans currently are serving in combat areas was highlighted and the potential ramifications of this type of service were discussed.

The concluding ceremony included speeches by individuals involved in supporting specialized women’s services at the VA, both locally and nationally. The speakers provided an important backdrop for understanding the progress made during the past decade in assessing and meeting the needs of women veterans. Further, two heartwarming speeches were given by women veterans who spoke highly of the integrated mental and physical health services they have received.

The keynote address by Susan Mather, MD, chief of Public Health and Environmental Health at VA Central Office provided an appropriate closing for the ceremony as she discussed her advocacy for women’s services in the past 10 years. In summary, the tenth anniversary of women’s health at the VA in Boston was met with great enthusiasm and hope for the next decade.