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Survey finds women veterans unaware of available state, federal services

Female veterans in California are largely unaware of services available to them and require many specialized services that are unavailable, according to the results of a survey released this month.

“Women veterans’ needs have been subsumed under the needs of veterans in general for many years,” begins the overview of the survey, conducted by California State Library’s California Research Bureau.

“Because women veterans make up less than 10 percent of the total current veteran population, their unique needs have been obscured by this. This is beginning to change.”

The 2011 survey of nearly 900 female veterans, conducted at the request of the California Department of Veterans Affairs and the California Commission on the Status of Women, found that many are unaware of the state and federal services and benefits available to them, and that many services they do want are not currently available — including female-specific health care and help with military sexual trauma.

Roughly half of the participants also expressed a need for assistance in finding employment at the close of their service, as they transition back into civilian life.

State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, requested the first such CRB study on female veterans’ issues five years ago with the California Commission on the Status of Women. The result, released in 2009, was the first comprehensive U.S. report on the issue.

Wolk urged the state to continue collecting information to inform decision-making on the issue.

“These surveys provide us with the sort of information we need to continue our efforts at the state and federal level to fill the unique needs of this country’s women veterans, expand outreach efforts and increase access to existing services,” said Wolk, who represents Travis Air Force Base.

The results of both the 2009 and 2011 surveys are available online at the CRB’s website. Read an overview of the 2011 survey’s results at http://www.library.ca.gov/crb/12/BrieflyStated12-004.pdf.

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