Update and Review: The State of Women Veterans

Women’s History Month presents an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable contributions of Women Veterans throughout history. Women Veterans have stood at the forefront of pivotal moments in our nation’s history, yet their stories often remain untold. We must honor the significant contributions they made to our military, our nation, and to the futures of little girls everywhere. And we must also recognize the ongoing challenges that Women Veterans face – and develop better solutions to fix them. In 2022, we reviewed the state of Women Veterans; this year, we take an updated look at the challenges that persist and the solutions that we must deliver.

Persistent Challenges

The current state of Women Veterans reveals persistent challenges. While many entities strive to address these challenges, more work needs to be done. And, currect research reveals the nuances of particular challenges.  

Access to Childcare

For many Women Veterans, the journey to post-military success is hindered by the lack of accessible childcare options. Even after transitioning to civilian life, Women Veterans often find themselves navigating career opportunities while shouldering sole responsibility for their children. Studies show that they are more likely than their male counterparts to be a single parent with children living in the home. 

The absence of reliable childcare resources presents a significant barrier to their advancement in education and employment, and it can significantly complicate their financial security.

Bearing Sole Financial Responsibility

Financial responsibility presents a sizable burden, as Women Veterans are more likely than their nonveteran women peers to be the sole provider for their children. As they transition to civilian life, many women find themselves grappling with financial instability and uncertainty. Without the support of a partner or spouse, they must navigate the complexities of managing household finances, securing employment, and providing for their families. 

This added strain can exacerbate existing stressors and hinder their ability to achieve economic security.

Navigating the Transition to Civilian Employment

According to a recent VA study, “post-9/11 women Veterans have a lower labor force participation than non-Veteran women; they also had less full-time employment and earn less than Veteran men.” Despite possessing valuable skills and experience gained during their service, many encounter difficulty translating these assets into civilian roles. Plus, the lack of awareness among employers about the qualifications and capabilities of Women Veterans further compounds the challenge. 

Transition stressors and employment gaps can compound senses of isolation and insecurity, and lead to housing instability.

Loss of Identity and Sense of Belonging

The transition from military service to civilian life can evoke a profound sense of loss and disconnection for Women Veterans. In fact, according to recent research from IVMF, “loss of identity” was a top challenge cited by Women Veterans. The loss of camaraderie, purpose, and belonging experienced in the military can leave them feeling adrift and isolated in civilian society. 

Rebuilding a sense of identity and finding a supportive community are essential aspects of their journey toward post-military fulfillment.

Access to and Understanding of Healthcare Benefits

Accessing comprehensive healthcare services is a critical concern for Women Veterans, yet many encounter barriers to obtaining the care they need. While VA has made significant advancements in specializing services to meet women’s health needs, many Women Veterans still feel confused understanding and accessing their benefits. 

Addressing these barriers is essential to ensuring that Women Veterans receive the healthcare support they deserve.

Honoring Women Veterans as Trailblazers

The current state of Women Veterans calls us to address critical health and employment issues, while intentionally recognizing and honoring Women Veterans’ service. For, as Army Veteran and Senator Tammy Duckworth has said, “Female service members are so integrated into the military, so critical and vital to all functions of the military, from combat service support to combat support, to direct combat, that we could not go to war as a nation – we could not defend America – without our women.”

Recognizing Their Sacrifice 

Women’s contributions have enriched military culture and enhanced its effectiveness in defending our nation. By diversifying the ranks, women bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences that bolster decision-making, problem-solving, and innovation. 

Plus, women’s roles in the military strengthen its operational capabilities, from combat to logistics to leadership. By harnessing the skills of women in uniform, the military becomes more resilient, adaptable, and prepared to address the complex challenges of modern warfare. 

Paving the Way for Future Generations

Women’s determination to break through glass ceilings and serve in roles from which they were previously barred serves as a powerful example to future generations. By challenging societal norms and pushing boundaries within the military, women service members have opened the doors to future women service members in:

  • U.S. Service Academies
  • Leadership
  • Combat
  • Special Operations
  • Pilots
  • and so much more

Their example is crucial for young girls to see as it empowers them to dream big and believe in their ability to succeed. Without the brave women who have accomplished these many “firsts,” young girls would be without a role model to inspire them to believe, “I could do that.”

The Imperative of Supporting Women Veterans

As we honor Women Veterans during Women’s History Month, it is essential to recognize our moral obligation to support them. At Women Veterans Interactive Foundation (WVIF), we are committed to empowering and supporting Women Veterans. Through targeted outreach, engagement, and empowerment initiatives, we strive to address the unique needs of Women Veterans and provide them with the resources and support they need to thrive. 

And you can help.

Every act of support helps us close gaps, ease barriers, and preserve their legacy. This Women’s History Month, honor a Woman Veteran in your life with a gift to WVIF