A bipartisan congressional group, including Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz, is calling for an investigation into how the Department of Veterans Affairs reaches out to female veterans.
Eleven members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs sent a letter to the VA's deputy inspector general last week requesting the probe to better identify the needs of female veterans, including issues of privacy and the VA's ability to provide gender-specific care for female vets, including basic gynecological services.
The letter comes at a time when female vets represent 10 percent of the population served by the VA and the figure is expected to grow significantly. Close to 200,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent report from Disabled American Veterans found that 20 percent of this country's military recruits are female, along with 14.5 percent of active duty and 18 percent of reserve components.
The congressional group members said they are concerned by recent reports that have highlighted chronic problems that they say compromise health care for women vets, including a lack of health care providers, problems with coordination of care, and inappropriate treatment.
"It is imperative that the VA modernize its services to adapt to the unique needs of our nations's female heroes," said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., in a statement accompanying the letter.
VA Secretary Bob McDonald told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in February that he was committed to recruiting more gynecologists and expanding VA women's clinics nationwide.
In Minnesota, home to more than 20,000 female vets, women who were once in or near the thick of the fighting have often said they feel that the military and the civilian worlds overlook or discount their service.
In a 2010 series that looked at issues facing female veterans, the Star Tribune found that many female vets bypassed VA care, as attitudes and services were slow to catch up with the increasing numbers.