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Supporting Women Veterans: The Role of Healthcare Leaders
Patient Safety

Supporting Women Veterans: The Role of Healthcare Leaders

On June 12, we recognize Women Veterans Recognition Day, a date designated to mark the anniversary of the signing of the 1948 Women's Armed Services Integration Act, which allowed women the right to permanently serve in the regular armed forces. The Act, along with President Truman’s decision to desegregate the military, also permitted African American women to officially serve in the military. The date is recognized nationally and by a number of states.

As a mission-driven organization, ECRI’s vision is a world where safe, high-quality healthcare is accessible to everyone, including our nation’s women veterans and service members. ECRI is proud to have women veterans as part of our workforce, working hard each day to advance our mission. Our nation’s women veterans face unique physical and mental health needs. Many bear the scars of combat, both those you can see and those you cannot. To effectively support their needs, healthcare leaders need to address gaps in the current systems that fail these veterans.

To bring greater attention to this important issue, ECRI is honored to have brought together a panel of experts who have either served or cared for those who have served to share their insight on how healthcare leaders and providers can redesign care systems to meet the unique needs of women who have served in our U.S. armed forces. The esteemed panel included Major General (Retired) Marianne Mathewson-Chapman, PhD, Army Nurse Corps, Florida Army National Guard; Kelly Roseberry, PT, DPT, VP Programming at the Travis Mills Foundation; and Lucy Del Gaudio, Sr. Manager Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at EssilorLuxottica, Chief Operating Officer of The Pink Berets.

The conversation began with the experts sharing how healthcare systems can design integrative holistic health care that can enable women veterans to receive quality care when they transition from active duty to civilian life. Major General (Retired) Marianne Mathewson-Chapman shared her work to bring attention to the importance of medical and nursing education reform, specifically how high-quality veteran-centered care starts by empowering healthcare providers-in-training to be more military culturally competent and responsive to veterans’ visible and invisible war wounds.

The discussion touched on many sensitive issues. Lucy Del Gaudio, Chief Operating Officer of The Pink Berets, shared her own personal experience with being sexually assaulted while serving. She also spoke about how healthcare providers can better understand the mental wounds that sexual assault trauma creates and how to support the mental health of women veterans who experience sexual assault.

We also discussed issues including women veterans who have incurred severe physical injuries like amputations and traumatic brain injury, recovery that can take years or even a lifetime, and how healthcare providers can support physical and mental health by integrating holistic methods into their care planning. Kelly Roseberry, VP of Programming at the Travis Mills Foundation shared how they work to “recalibrate” veterans using adapted sports to promote the healing process for women veterans and their families.

Finally, June 12 is a very personal day for me. I had the honor of serving our county in the United States Air Force. As a young woman, serving was a humbling experience, one that taught me to embrace the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. Those core values I have taken with me along every step of my life. We hope by bringing awareness to this important day and to the unique healthcare needs of women veterans, healthcare providers and leaders will take an opportunity to reflect on how they support and provide care for this unique group of individuals, a group that has served and sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we all enjoy.

View our webinar to hear more about how providers can redesign systems to meet the unique needs of women that have served in our U.S. armed forces.