January is a time to not only make New Year’s resolutions, but also to reflect on meaningful events and positive actions of the previous year. For health care providers who treat the 1,315,297 active duty women service members (16.6 percent of the total force) and the more than 150,000 women who serve in the National Guard and reserves, 2018 brought new opportunities for collaboration and cross-fertilization of ideas as well as new research findings. We want to bring to your attention a few of the impactful events and reports and give a shoutout to all the dedicated researchers, providers, policy makers and planners who are committed to improving the lives of women service members.
One of the key events from the past year was the National Meeting on Active Duty and Veteran Women’s Health held on Aug. 27 that brought together health professionals and researchers from multiple federal agencies and the Department of Defense to talk about best practices and new research on delivering quality care to active duty and veteran women.
Another highlight of the year was the National VA/DOD Women’s Mental Health Mini-residency: Building Clinical Expertise to Meet Women’s Unique Treatment Needs held Aug. 28-30 and co-hosted by PHCoE. This program brought together more than 150 VA and DOD mental health providers to gain knowledge about topics such as complex trauma, psychopharmacology, and ostracism. Other roundtable discussions addressed how best to improve access to care and remove existing barriers.
Other events and collaborations of note include the following:
National Center for PTSD hosted the Women Veterans, Traumatic Stress and Post-Military Health: Building Partnerships for Innovation Summit on Sep. 25-26
The AMSUS Annual Meeting on Nov. 28 included a session on Critical Topics in Military Women’s Health
In addition to these notable events, the Defense Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), a congressionally mandated committee that provides recommendations on policies related to the recruitment and retention, treatment, employment, integration, and well-being of women in the Armed Forces, issued their 2017 Annual Report. The report provides information gathered through installation visits, business meetings, relevant reports and survey data, and input from individual service members. For health care providers, this report provides insight into the current and emerging needs of women service members.
Although issued prior to 2018, those interested in the health of women service members can take a deeper dive into the Military Women’s Health: A Scoping Review and Gap Analysis, 2000-2015. The report provides a comprehensive review of relevant health and mental health studies.
PHCoE will support efforts to continue the momentum gained in 2018 as we move into the new year. We must prioritize the health care (and mental health care) of women service members as they are an integral part of the military of today and tomorrow.
Ms. Faulconer is a contracted social worker subject matter expert at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence. She has a Master of Social Work and a Master of Public Administration.
Dr. Grant is a contracted clinical psychologist subject matter expert at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence. He has a Master of Arts, Master of Science and doctorate in clinical psychology.
The views expressed in Clinician's Corner blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence or Department of Defense.