PTSD Study Points to Need for Increased Women's Specialty Care at VA Hospitals
A new study by the Veterans Administration National Center for PTSD in conjunction with the Boston University School of Medicine has concluded that female combat veterans suffer the symptoms of PTSD in roughly the same proportion as male combat veterans post-deployment.
This is a significant difference from much smaller study published a month earlier, in May 2011, by the Department of Veterans Affairs-New Jersey Health Care System, which showed that female combat veterans suffered from PTSD at higher rates than male combat veterans.
Two possible differences between the studies suggest areas to search for the discrepancy, including the much larger size of the newer study relative to the one released in May, and the more focused study on May concentrating on a particular group of National Guard members rather than a more general study.
Whichever number is the stronger one, one thing is clear. Female veterans have at least as great a need for post-deployment PTSD services geared to their needs as male veterans. This need is largely unmet. While male combat veterans have PTSD groups and day services and other supports created specifically for their needs at nearly every VA hospital in the United States, women's PTSD needs are still largely unmet at the local level.
There have been some strides taken in the last two decades. The Women's Trauma Recovery Program is a 60 day residential program created in 1992 to meet the needs of female veterans with PTSD, but the nature of the program largely excludes mothers with young children because of the logistics of finding care for the children for whom they are still, statistically, more likely to be primary caretakers.Continued on the next page