For veterans, "it's much easier to get men assistance than women," said Lela Campbell, executive director of A Step Forward, a Baltimore treatment facility for homeless men and women, including veterans.
"It gets complicated" for a system that is used to dealing predominantly with men, said Cynthia Mason-Posey, director of the outreach and advocacy program for the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA, she said, is trying to better serve female veterans. This includes recognizing that post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are different in women than men and ensuring that all VA medical facilities provide obstetric and gynecological care.
Recent legislation approved compensation for female veterans dealing with breast cancer, extended military sexual trauma counseling to active personnel and created a business training resource program for female veterans.
Still, some feel progress has been slow. And many female veterans don't know they are eligible for benefits, including health care, mental health care, child care, housing and job training assistance, life insurance, burial benefits, and dependent and survivor benefits, Campbell said.
The conference is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include workshops, health screenings, vendors and entertainment; the fee is $25. To register, call 410-383-4119 or visit http://mvwc2011.eventbrite.com. For more information about female veterans' benefits, contact the VA Center for Women Veterans at va.gov/womenvet or call 1-800-827-1000. Visit mdva.state.md.us to find out about Maryland-specific benefits.
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Christopher J. Gearon is a writer living in Derwood, Md.