Lift Every Voice: Listen to Women Veterans

Janice Lynch Schuster

During last week’s Veteran’s Day inspired concerts and tributes to veterans, a Hill-gathering of Disruptive Women (and our man of the month, Rep. Tim Walz, MN) spoke truth with power. Gathered to discuss challenges faced by women veterans, the group included veterans, members of Congress and their spouses, congressional staff, state leaders, and filmmakers. The group had had enough of platitudes and promises. We were ready for disruption, and Rep. Walz delivered just that, saying he was done with “incremental change” (Washington’s latest, favorite buzz-word) and prepared to lead “seismic change.”

walz panelWalz speaks from a place of experience, knowledge, and passion: He is a retired soldier, and the highest rank ranking enlisted man to serve in Congress. During a 24 year stint in the Army National Guard, including a tour of duty in Operation Enduring Freedom, he also taught high school. The latter tour provided him some insight into chaos and disruption. In the 113th Congress, he will serve in leadership roles that include the National Guard and Reserves Caucus, and the Congressional Veterans Jobs.

In his remarks, Walz noted that “it doesn’t take much to offer health care that people can’t access.” He added that although the VA has made some progress since the days when “the best thing the VA could say for what it had done for women was that the exam tables no longer  that face the door.” Later, he added that the VA system—staffed by dedicated people—still has far to go to really offer care for all, noting that, “it is much easier to put up a yellow ribbon then it is to step up care.” (more…)

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An Attitude of Gratitude

Amber Coleman-MortleyWe live in a community where there are a lot of military personnel.  We often see them in uniform coming and going during the morning and evening commute.  My children never really noticed until one day I randomly thanked a guy for his service.  I had been having a really bad week and for some reason seeing this man in uniform reminded me that there was a lot in my life to be thankful for.  Acting on impulse  I abruptly blurted out, “Thank you so much for your service”.  The guy smiled a shy smile and went on about his day.

Puzzled, one of my kids says, “Mommy what are you thanking him for?  Who was he?”.

“Well people like him, and others you see dressed in uniform, are making a huge sacrifice. Their spouses, their children, their siblings and their mommies and daddies are all making a sacrifice so that the rest of us can go to buy gasoline to go places we love; buy the toys and things we like; have ideas and express them; safely walk our streets without the threat of bombs.  (more…)

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November Man of the Month: Congressman Tim Walz

Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01) is Disruptive Women’s November Man of the Month. Yesterday at our Disparities and Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care briefing we were pleased to present him with this honor and a t-shirt. As a 24-year veteran of the Army National Guard, Congressman Walz works to assure the safety and security of those who serve and have served in our armed forces. He also works tirelessly to ensure they have access to the benefits they deserve. Because of this and his commitment to providing the men and women who return from service with the opportunity to achieve success, happiness and good health in civilian life we are proud to name him November’s Man of the Month.

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Am I a Veteran?

alfie

This post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

A very personal story illustrates why we continue to have disparities, especially in health care, among women who served in the military.

I was at an event a number of years ago and towards the end of the program, the master of ceremonies, a retired Admiral, called on veterans by war service to stand and be recognized.  Ten WWII veterans stood and took a bow; four Korean War veterans came to their feet and were honored.  The Admiral then asked for Vietnam War veterans to stand and a third of all in attendance stood and the room went crazy in applause.  At that moment I realized that I was still sitting!  There I was, a 22 year Army veteran who served during the Vietnam and Gulf wars and I was still sitting…it was like a kick in the stomach and then I got angry at myself and the fact that I, who knows better, got distracted by the relationship that the word veteran has to serving in a war which correlates to deployment and combat.

All this all happened in a matter of seconds and once I snapped out of it, I stood up to receive the recognition I was due among my wartime peers.  I did not serve in the war, but I was part of the Vietnam War as I cared for our wounded and their families in military hospitals.  (more…)

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The demoralizing care women veterans receive…I have solutions

diana dThis post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

Out here, the sunrises and sunsets are breath taking. You can feel the calm and quiet, perfected by the chirping of birds and the rhythm of insects.  Reflection is mandatory.  Rural life is slower.  The night skies are darker, shimmering brightly with millions of stars.  The few sirens we hear sound for a few seconds in the morning, midday and early evening… a sort of alarm clock for farmers.

The isolation is peaceful, centering, inviting…. and dangerous for aging disabled veterans far removed from their Community Based Outpatient Centers (CBOC’s) and VA hospitals and lacking community services.

The average person who suffers an injury goes to the closest ER or clinic. The rural veteran weighs the distance to the VA – mine is a couple of hours away – versus my personal assessment of how badly I am injured or how ill I feel. (more…)

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The Road to Veterans Day 2014 Fact Sheet

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The Road to Veterans Day 2014 Fact Sheet

Summary:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has an important mission: caring for Veterans and their families, and VA has strong institutional values – mission – critical ideals that must influence day–to-day behavior and performance: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

To better fulfill our mission and to improve our service those who have ‘borne the battle,’ their families, and survivors, VA has developed The Road to Veterans Day 2014 — a series of strategies and actions that will enable the Department to:

  • Rebuild trust with Veterans and the American people;
  • Improve service delivery; and
  • Set the course for long – term excellence and reform. (more…)


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Service

11.6

This post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

Meet the women in our film
Meet the women in our social media
Meet the challenges they face:
Fighting to get their benefits
Fighting to get medical care,
Fighting to overcome their visible and invisible injuries.

These women veterans are still serving,
for as they struggle for good and timely medical care for themselves,
they are on the vanguard for all women. (more…)

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No Basic Training without Basic Health Care – Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care

Robin Strongin

This post is part of a new series, Disparities & Disservice: Women Veterans Deserve Better Health Care. The series will culminate with a briefing on Thursday, November 13 at noon.

In the continuing effort to protect the American people and our national security interests, women are playing a greater role than ever before in the country’s history.  Today, approximately 14 percent of active-duty military personnel are female, roughly double the number of women in the armed forces in 1980.  And more women are assuming critical responsibilities in combat missions than in any previous conflict.

So we’re seeing significant movement toward gender equity and opportunity when it comes to defending the homeland.  But, when it comes to the health care needs of the women who have given so much to their fellow citizens…well, let’s just say that the federal government has a lot of work to do to live up to its commitments to its women veterans. (more…)

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  • November 3rd, 2014 Change for CDC? Change for CDC!
    By Glenna Crooks
  • An Innovative Approach to Stroke & Aphasia Recovery: Part 2, Groups

    brookeHOne day long ago I found myself dancercising in the basement of a bingo hall.  This was, to make a gross understatement, way out of my newly single comfort zone. I was awkward at best and going the wrong way at worst, but I was in a group with 200 others trying to do the same thing. I went back, and found a community of people I had little in common with other than this shared experience. I worked harder because I saw them working harder. Soon I knew a few routines and was offering encouragement to newcomers. I was getting more confident; healthier.   You probably have a similar story – a group you didn’t expect to join but pushed you to be better.

    Groups are powerful things – little organisms that wiggle and struggle, contract and expand, create and adapt. Those who need a hand get one; those who can lend a hand offer it. (more…)

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    An Innovative Approach to Stroke & Aphasia Recovery: Part 1, Life Participation

    dswprophotoA1Here’s the scenario:  A 51 year-old woman is having the worst headache she has ever experienced.  Let’s call her Linda.  She is concerned and decides to lie down to see if it subsides.  Alone in the bedroom, she experiences a stroke.  She is conscious but cannot move her right side and cannot call out for help.  Her husband, let’s call him Jim, finds her, recognizes that something is terribly wrong and calls 9-1-1.

    She is taken to the local hospital; the immediate question posed in the emergency room, “What time did symptoms occur?”  Jim does not know and Linda cannot answer.  She has been diagnosed as having had a CVA (cerebral vascular accident) or stroke.  An MRI reveals that a clot has traveled to the left side of her brain, but she was not given the clot busting drug treatment because there is a 4 hour window and the time of her stroke is not known.  Linda is stabilized and transferred to the neurological unit.  (more…)

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    My Personal Stroke Story

    IMG_0794I first shared my story in 2008 as the Passion Speaker for the American Heart Association at the Go Red for Women Luncheon in San Antonio, Texas. And I told my story many times in the next few years to the various corporate partners and in private homes where both men and women had gathered to learn about women’s risk for stroke.

    Today, more than 16 years after having a stroke, I continue to tell my story with others as a You’re the Cure advocate in Washington DC. I presented at the Maryland Million Hearts Symposium and on Washington DC’s CBS TV station WUSA9 last winter. You can watch my interview with WUSA9 here.

    I am proud to be an Inaugural Member of the Circle of Red for the Greater Washington DC Circle of Red in 2014. (more…)

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    Introduction to Special Series on Stroke: World Stroke Day, Women & Stroke, and the Stroke Comeback Center

    Stephanie Mensh

    Today, Disruptive Women in Health Care begins a special week-long series to raise awareness of stroke in recognition of World Stroke Day, providing opinion and actionable information, and joining in the celebration of 10 successful years of the Stroke Comeback Center in Vienna, VA.

    October 29, 2014 is World Stroke Day and the launch of a 2-year, world-wide campaign, I am woman: Stroke affects me, sponsored by the World Stroke Organization (WSO) and supported by national organizations like the American Stroke Association (ASA).  Women have a higher risk of stroke than men, a higher mortality rate from stroke than men, have worse outcomes from stroke than men, and often receive less care than men, despite responding equally well to care, according to the WSO.  Women are the predominant caregivers, often resulting in health issues that then may increase their own risk of stroke.

    Each year, 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke. In the U.S., about 790,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke. Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death, and a leading cause of disability.  The ASA estimated that Americans will pay about $73.7 billion in 2010 for stroke-related medical costs and disability. (more…)

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    Free the Data Announces New Partnership with Rep.Wasserman Schultz

    Sharon Terry

    FTD_logo3WASHINGTON, DC (October 8, 2014)—Free the Data, a national coalition of organizations dedicated to freeing genetic information, announced that U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) was named its Honorary Chair.

    “The time for hoarding data as a commodity is over,” said Sharon Terry, President and CEO of Genetic Alliance, the nonprofit health advocacy organization that coordinates Free the Data. “The Coalition is thrilled to have a powerful partnership with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. In Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are confident that the Congresswoman adds strength and momentum to the Free the Data movement, particularly as we work to free data associated with breast and ovarian cancer!” (more…)

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    Vaccine Injury Stories: the Sacred Cows of the Internet?

    When I first started looking into vaccines, I had no idea that an anti-vaccine movement even existed. I came across claims that the vaccines were toxic and dangerous; the diseases, it was claimed, were not. I have some background in science, so I was able to dismiss those claims as inaccurate, but I couldn’t help but be drawn in by tragic, angry and deeply personal stories from parents who claimed their children were harmed by vaccines.

    I dared not question them, but I still couldn’t understand…

    If vaccine injuries were occurring on a scale like this, why wasn’t anybody doing anything about  it?  And why wasn’t the media reporting on them?

    I wanted to know more about these vaccine injury stories but worried it would be insensitive to probe or question their accuracy. I could hurt their feelings or worse, insult their child’s memory. After all, while I (more…)

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