VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System Home — Overt and regular discrimination against women vets
V A Cuts & Runs On Lady Vets
What part of I am not a male veteran don't you understand?
For their protection, all the women asked me not to use their real names in their stories here.
THE POLICE CHIEF
I think it was back in summer 1997. At that time the parking lot at the Reno VA Hospital was a lot, not the garage it is now. I was coming from work, so I was in a dress and high heels. A man was standing behind the four-foot pony wall. He watched me as I drove in, parked and started to walk in. He had on a uniform shirt, and as he stepped out and walked towards me, I noticed he was a VA policeman, although a short and fat one. He tossed a cigarette down, then spit onto the ground as he swaggered towards me. As I stepped from the crosswalk onto the sidewalk, he ordered me to “Halt.” I warily did. “What are you doing here, ” he demanded from me. “I’m here for an appointment.”
He shook his head and said, “You can’t park here. Go move your car.” I said again, “But, I’m here for an appointment.”
“That lots for our veterans. Move your car.” he replied.
“I am a veteran, ” I told him as I started to walk not wanting to be late for my appointment. He stepped in front of me, blocking me, “No, you’re not. Our vets are old alcoholic men. Now move your car.”
I went for my VA ID, he put his hand on his gun. “Now move your car, ” he barked.
I moved my car. I was late to my appointment. I tried to complain to the Medical Director, but he wouldn’t see me.
What part of there are also lady vets don’t they understand? this female vet wrote me.
I’d had a head and eye injury. I was sent to a neurologist. He was only in a couple days a month so it took awhile for me to be seen. Having been a victim of sexual abuse in the service, by both peers as well as superiors, I’m more than a bit gun-shy of men. For someone who was there for a head and eye injury, he managed to spend a lot of time touching my breasts. Which I just froze over.
I am a vet deserving of just as much dignity as the men, this female vet wrote me.
I was having seizures so I was sent for an ENG. No one told me first anything about what to expect or what would happen. I wish someone would have though. Turns out glue was put all in my long hair. There was no way then to clean it out. Afterwards I had to walk all the way through the VA Hospital and outside to my car. I did that with my hair looking terrible. That was humiliating and embarrassing. I had come from work so I was in a skirt and blouse and high heels. Therefore, I missed more time for work, as I had to go home to wash my hair.
Most of the men have short hair, so it never occurred to anyway, since we women veterans are a minority, to tell us first about the glue so that we could know what to expect. So we know to bring a scarf. Alternatively, how about the VA provides a sink, shampoo, and conditioner to wash out the glue. No, looking like a Halloween fright hairdo, instead I was just uncaringly kicked out by the technician. It was all so degrading.
Why do they treat me as if I’m a guy vet, this female vet wrote me.
I have PTSS and Dr. Boardman required I attend four sessions. There were several problems with that. One was that part of my PTSS is from sexual abuse from men. So when I, as the only woman, was put into a very small, hot room with a couple dozen guys, and guys that stunk horribly of stale cigarette smoke, that triggered me. It made me worse. I had gone for help, and this Dr. Boardman had only made me worse. I ended up with horrible migraine headaches from the stale cigarette smoke.
Another problem was the young woman running the sessions was way over her head. She did not have the training or experience to deal with these men, some of them I perceived as predators. These sexual predators were manipulating her and she wasn’t even cognizant of it.
Another problem was this LSW did understand nor care to understand my extreme discomfort and fear at being the only woman in the room.
I had gone to the VA for help, and Dr. Boardman only hurt me more.
I wrote a letter complaining about all this and the lies the LSW had put into my VA records. I got back a letter back from the VA Patient Rep denying my complaint. Just further proving my point the VA denies my female gender; the VA’s Patient Rep letter back to me was addressed to Mister.
I’m a woman. I’m not a guy. I hate it when the VA disrespects my gender. I hate it when the VA treats me like I’m a guy. I hate it when the VA denies my gender. I hate it when the VA does not see I am female. My biology, hormones, eyes, brain, and psychology are different from the guys. I don’t see the world the way the guys do. I don’t feel the world the way the guys do. I don’t react to the world the way the guys do. I don’t express the world the way the guys do.
The VA has this wrong idea that one size, male, fits all, this female vet wrote me.
NO RETURN DOCTOR’S CALL OPTION IN MENU
I hate it when someone from the VA leaves a message for Mister when I’m a female, and does not leave their full return number. I also hate it that the VA’s telephone menu at [protected] does not have a selection for “Returning Doctor’s/Clinic’s/Nurse’s Calls.”
THE EYE EXAM FROM HELL
Dr. Hershaway is reputed to be top-notch. After an eye injury, the VA scheduled an appointment for me with him. I was wearing contacts. My hand in front of my face is totally blurry without my contacts or glasses. Dr. Hershaway had me take out my contacts; I didn’t have my glasses with me. Dr. Hershaway then put some drops in my eyes, and then incredibly, told me to go back to the waiting room. I can’t see, and this insensitive idiot is telling me to walk blindly to somewhere else. So I told him I can’t see to do that.
To my amazement, he responded by telling me again to go back to the waiting room. He was not listening to me! He wanted me to put myself in harm’s way by walking blindly down a hallway. How the hell was I supposed to get out of the VA hospital and to my car where my glasses were when I can’t even see my hand in front of my face?! Why hadn’t they told me to bring my glasses with me?!
No one cared I cried as I stumbled my way back to my car to get my glasses, this female vet wrote me.
THE LEATHER-VESTED GUY AT CHECK-IN
This guy calls me Mister or sir when I check in and I despise that.
ON BEING FEMALE
The people at the VA perceive my talking or complaining as too emotional, that I am too disturbed, and they want emergency to sedate me to calm me down.
I don’t need a sedative, I need to talk and be heard, this female vet wrote me.
WRONG, I’M NOT MISTER
I’m in the waiting room and the nurse is wrongly and insensitively calling out Mister prefacing my name.
I am not a mister, this female vet wrote me.
THE WAITING LINE AT ELIGIBILITY
VA Enrollment Eligibility has this thing where once or twice, sometimes more a year, I have to check in with them. There is no per se waiting line as they are tucked back into a corner off the Gold and Red Team’s waiting rooms at the Reno’s VA Hospital. There are chairs there though which help those that find it difficult to stand. Therefore, it’s a musical chairs to get to EE. I can’t tell you how many times male vets just step in front of me. They just don’t see me as a vet. Most are okay when I point out I also am waiting in line.
Some just don’t believe I, a female, am a vet, this female vet wrote me.
After being out of the service for some 25 years on a medical discharge, I went in to apply for medical benefits I hadn’t ever applied for because I then didn’t need them and felt guilty about using since there were others more hurt than me.
My contribution to the military was just as valuable as any mans, this female vet wrote me.
Image is from Women are Veterans, Too at www.geocities.com/Heartland/7351/WM.HTM