Women are making-up a larger part of the military...leading to more women veterans. And services might not be as supportive as they could be. A conference at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School this week will examine women’s experiences both in the service and once they get out.
International Relations Program Chair Mary Lovely says educating people about the challenges women face could change public perception and the services they need.
"Women make up about 9 % of the veteran population but that's going to increase dramatically over the next 10 years. So the VA Medical Centers across the country have had to respond to that. 10 years ago they were providing OB-GYN services but many were providing them in partnership with neighboring hospitals. So what does that say to people when they come. It says a soldier is not supposed to have a baby. But soldiers do have babies now and veterans have babies."
There are nearly 215,000 women currently serving in the United States military and more than 1.8 million women veterans.
Lovely says it’s time to consider how the experience in battle -- and the after-effects – place unique strains on women.
"When we think about veterans, most of us in our minds if we're honest, the first thing that comes to mind is a man. When women come home and say they're a veteran we want to welcome them; the American public is very appreciative, but maybe we are just not as familiar with it and don't know quite how to wrap our heads around it."
A session Thursday will have some first-person accounts and be able to address war trauma and sexual violence in the military. It will also take on women veterans’ health issues. Friday sessions cover preparing for service and community responses. The Thursday panel starts at 4:00 p.m.; Friday the sessions start at 12:00 Noon...both are at S-U’s Eggers Hall, Room 220.