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VA News

At Veterans Hospital in Oregon, a Push for Better Ratings Puts Patients at Risk, Doctors Say

Roseburg VAMC


ROSEBURG, Ore. — An 81-year-old veteran hobbled into the emergency room at the rural Veterans Affairs hospital here in December, malnourished and dehydrated, his skin flecked with ulcers and his ribs broken from a fall at home.

NeuroRx Signs Agreement With U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs and Baylor College of Medicine for Clinical Trial of First Drug



WILMINGTON, Del., Dec. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- NeuroRx, a clinical stage biopharma company developing the first drug regimen to treat severe bipolar depression in patients with Acute Suicidal Ideation and Behavior (ASIB), announced that it has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as represented by the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, TX and the Houston VA Research & Education Foundation, Inc. The collaboration also includes Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, TX. NeuroRx is developing a sequential treatment regimen of NRX-100 (ketamine) and NRX-101 (a proprietary formulation of d-cycloserine / lurasidone), for the treatment of severe bipolar depression in patients with Acute Suicidal Ideation & Behavior (ASIB). The FDA awarded FAST TRACK designation to this investigational drug regimen in September, 2017. NeuroRx has now signed agreements with three clinical trial centers, including one with the University of Alabama, Birmingham.  Patient enrollment will begin shortly. The company is in active discussions with additional sites with which it expects to form contracts in early 2018.

VA blasted for problems plaguing $543M technology contract

Tracking Devices


Investigators with the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that a half-billion-dollar contract to bring cutting-edge tracking technology to VA hospitals has been plagued by poor oversight and security lapses and has an uncertain future even after VA officials dramatically pared down its scope.

VA encourages women Veterans to take control of their heart health

Encourages Women Vet


Number of younger women having heart attacks increasing

Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States?

Heart disease – which includes coronary artery disease and heart attack – took the lives of almost 300,000 women in 2017. In fact, the disease affects women of all ages and heart attacks are on the rise for younger women.

Fortunately, nearly 80 percent of cardiac events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education. During Heart Month this February, VA is partnering with the American Heart Association (AHA) to equip women Veterans with the information, tools and resources they need to reduce their risk of the disease.

The symptoms of a heart attack can differ in women versus men. Like men, the most common heart attack symptom for women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely than men to experience other heart attack signs, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Back or jaw pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Regular checkups are crucial

Because disease symptoms vary – and because some women don’t experience any symptoms at all – it’s crucial to have regular checkups to ensure warning signs are caught. Your provider can identify risk factors before the disease strikes and make recommendations to help you lower your future risk.

Beyond keeping up with provider appointments, you can make healthy lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and managing your blood pressure.

To prevent heart disease, experts recommend:

  • Eating a variety of healthy foods
  • Doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity
  • Brisk walking or biking (slower than 10 mph) at least 150 minutes a week

VA offers a variety of resources to help women Veterans keep their hearts, minds and bodies healthy:

  • Join thousands of other Veterans who have successfully used VA’s MOVE! Program to jumpstart a more active lifestyle
  • Learn about effective blood pressure management strategies on VA’s website
  • Take advantage of VA’s medical nutrition therapy

Schedule an appointment today

There are simple steps you can take to manage your heart health. Schedule an appointment with your provider today to discuss a plan that works for you.

Do you have a personal experience with heart disease that you’d like to share with other women Veterans? If so, VA and AHA want to hear from you. Interested individuals should prepare a written submission no longer than 500 words describing their experiences as a survivor or caregiver.

AHA staff will feature selected participants in a “Volunteer Spotlight” on the “Go Red for Women” website and in the AHA e-newsletter. Contact a Women Veteran Program Manager at your local VA to learn how to nominate a woman Veteran. The deadline to submit nominations is February 26, 2020.


VA must address the needs of women Veterans

Women Veterans 02


The face of America’s military has changed and, as we start another decade with continued U.S. military engagement around the world, the Department of Veterans Affairs must also adjust to ensure our increasing numbers of women Veterans get the care they need.

In November 2019, with an overwhelming 399-11 bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives passed the Deborah Sampson Act - named in honor of Deborah Sampson, who defied the status quo by disguising herself as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War. This bill is a strong step in altering the narrative around what a Veteran looks like in America, ensuring that all who served honorably are cared for and setting the foundation for a VA capable of supporting Veteran care long into the future.

The Deborah Sampson Act is vital to addressing the unique medical needs of women Veterans, a cohort that has been growing since the 2001 outset of the war in Afghanistan. Women continue to take on new combat roles and responsibilities throughout the services. They represent the fastest growing subgroup of Veterans, consisting of approximately 2 million Veterans in the United States and about 9.4 percent of the total Veteran population. Projections show that the number of male Veterans will decline in the coming decades while the population of women Veterans will increase. Yet their service and sacrifice is frequently overlooked and undervalued. We must ensure that women Veterans have access to the benefits they earned and the resources they need.

The Deborah Sampson Act takes important steps towards eliminating barriers to care for all women who served and addressing women’s health care within the VA through a host of new and expanded services to include:

Establishing a new Office of Women’s Health within VA

Allocating additional funding for primary and emergency care clinicians in VA Women's Health Care residency programs

  • Extending coverage of health care for newborn children of Veterans from 7 to 14 days
  • Establishing a program to assist Veterans experiencing intimate partner violence
  • Increasing access to group counseling
  • Improving quality of care for infants at VA facilities
  • Providing support for low-income women Veterans, and
  • Improving the collection and analysis of data to ensure that the VA knows and can better address women Veterans’ needs in the future

The Deborah Sampson Act is the centerpiece of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s She Who Borne the Battle campaign, which highlights the need for our government to better adapt to the rising generation of women in the Veteran community and to keep pace with the changing needs of those who chose to sacrifice on behalf of our country.

IAVA will continue to fight for the ever-evolving issues faced by the women who have courageously and selflessly dedicated their service to our defense. The Deborah Sampson Act is critical to this fight. The House of Representatives did its job last year, I urge the Senate to take action and advance this legislation for our post-9/11 generation of Veterans in 2020.


Top VA hospital lacked full-time gynecologist, facilities serving women Veterans for years, report says

No Gynecologist


One of the largest Veterans medical centers in the country went almost two years without a full-time gynecologist and lacked private, secure spaces for women patients for even longer, according to a new report released by the Veterans Affairs Inspector General this week.

Department officials insist most of those issues at the North Texas VA Health Care System have been resolved now, but lawmakers are saying the shortfalls are indicative of larger cultural and leadership problems within the federal agency in their response to the rising number of women Veterans.

“The lack of space, privacy, and provider shortages are widespread, and these problems result in inconsistent, inadequate, and insufficient care for our women Veterans,” said Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Cal.f. and chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s task force on women Veterans.

“We owe all of our Veterans the highest quality care. As this report points out, when it comes to equity for women Veterans, we're clearly falling short.”

In the report, investigators criticized officials at the Dallas-area Veterans hospital for “ a long-standing deficiency related to resources for women Veterans healthcare, such as equipment, supplies and space that were required to ensure gender-specific care.”

They said that staffing issues were a major contributor to the problem, with vacancies that went unfilled for long stretches and inadequate staff to help escort female patients to appointments.

According to VA data, the North Texas VA Health Care System has the fourth-largest women Veteran population of any department medical facility in the country. Still, that fact did not appear to motivate administrators to move quicker on fixes to accommodate those patients.

“(Investigators) found limited or no access to women Veterans restrooms within the clinic areas,” the report states. “Women Veterans who were receiving care in a clinic examination room that required gowning and needed to access a restroom, would have to change into street clothes to walk through a public area to access restrooms, and then re-gown upon return to the examination room.”

The United States has more than 2 million women Veterans today, and the number of women using VA health services has more than tripled over the last 20 years. But numerous outside groups have criticized VA officials for being too slow to react to the changing Veteran demographic.

Past studies have shown that one in four women Veterans have faced harassment when visiting VA facilities, from both other patients and staff. And despite investment in more women-specific health care at the department, Veterans advocates say women too often face barriers in accessing their medical care.

In light of the facility space and staff issues at the Texas VA facility, officials pushed many female patients into community care programs outside the department facility. But investigators said that while that provided more timely care for many Veterans, VA administrators often did not follow up on that care with adequate monitoring of patients’ medical situation.

In response to the report, local officials said that they have filled several staffing vacancies and improved training protocols. They have also updated their scheduling systems to allow for longer appointments for female patients, and promised renovations to exam areas to allow for more privacy and security.

In a statement, hospital spokesman Jeffrey Clapper said the facility in recent months has launched a new women’s health provider training program that has increased the number of women’s health primary care providers from 11 to 75.

“As a result of these improvements, VA North Texas Health Care System outperforms most other U.S. hospitals in female specific effectiveness of care,” he said.

Still, advocates for women Veterans say too often those kind of obstacles to care discourage individuals from getting the medical benefits they earned.

“Women are not going to come into the fold until there is a signal that VA is going to meet the standards they expect for their care,” said Lindsay Rodman, executive vice president for communications and legal strategy at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “They need to know their health care is being adequately resourced.”

In recent years, IAVA has been pushing legislation (the Deborah Sampson Act) designed to mandate better staffing levels and care standards for women visiting VA hospitals. Rodman said she is hopeful the latest report can create new legislative momentum for that, by highlighting the shortcomings that many facilities face.

Browley said those kinds of shortfalls — both at the Texas facility and at other VA sites across the country — will be the continued focus of her task force in coming months. The panel was formed last May to look at those kinds of VA problems along with broader resources for women Veterans outside the federal government.


Service Women’s Action Network MST FOIA

Yale Law 004


The clinic represents Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) in its campaign to persuade the Department of Defense to more forcefully address military sexual trauma (MST) within the ranks. The representation has included researching and writing a policy report, drafting federal legislation to improve compensation for victims of MST, drafting and submitting a petition for rule-making to VA, and representation of SWAN, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, and the ACLU of Connecticut in two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits in U.S. District Court seeking DoD and VA records related to MST.

Battle for Benefits--VA Discrimination Against Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma (Report)
Battle for Benefits Appendix (November, 2013)
Amended Complaint, SWAN et al v. U.S. Department of Defense, No.
3:10-cv-1953-MRK (D.Conn.) (“SWAN I”)
Opinion and order, SWAN I (
Mar. 30, 2012)
Complaint, SWAN et al. v. U.S. Department of Defense, No.
3:11-cv-1534-MRK (D.Conn.) (“SWAN II”)

Media Clips

Lawrence Downes, The V.A. and Sexual Trauma, Nov. 18, 2013

New York Times editorial, For Assaulted Veterans, a Second Battle, New York Times Nov. 17, 2013

Lucy Nalpathanchil, Veterans Groups Ask VA to Change PTSD Claims Process, NPR, July 16, 2013

ACLU Lawsuit: Military Won't Release Rape Records, Associated Press, Dec 13, 2010

Lisa Chedekel, Lawsuit In New Haven Charges Military Withholds Assault Data, New Haven Independent, Dec 13, 2010

Nikita Lalwani, Law School's Veterans Legal Services Clinic representing plaintiffs in federal suit, Yale Daily News, Dec 13, 2010

Information is Democracy for Iran Policy or Military Sexual Trauma Cases,, Dec 16 2010

Christian Nolan, Lawsuit Filed Against Federal DOD, VA To Release Records on Military Sexual Assaults, CT Law Tribune, December 20, 2010

Besty Yagla , Yale Helps Two Veterans Groups File Lawsuits Against Federal Agencies, New Haven Advocate, Dec 21, 2010

Editorial: Justice for Women Veterans, The New York Times, September 11, 2011

Lucy Nalpathanchil, Same-sex ban challenged, Sydney Morning Herald, Oct 14, 2011


Cervical cancer screenings for women Veterans

Cervical Cancer


Screening can help prevent cervical cancer

Here’s a popular actress talking about being “too busy” to have a Pap smear.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

VA encourages you to talk to your primary care provider about cervical cancer testing because early detection can help save your life.

Cervical cancer was once the number one cause of cancer-related death in women. Due to increased screening, the number of cervical cancer deaths in the United States has dropped by more than 50% since the 1970s, according to the American Cancer Society.

Cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers if found early. A Pap (Papanicolaou) test, also known as a Pap smear, looks for cancer and pre-cancerous cervical cells. This test and screening for the human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, which is the cause of most cervical cancers, often leads to early detection. In addition to screening, there is a vaccination to prevent HPV. It is most effective if administered during childhood or adolescence, but adults can benefit from it, too.

Cervical cancer

These are some of the most helpful questions to ask during your next primary care visit:

  • How often do I need a Pap or HPV test, or both?
  • If my test is abnormal, how will I be contacted?
  • Should I receive the HPV vaccine?

Depending on your age and current cervical health, you can be screened in three- or five-year increments. VA and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released new screening guidelines in 2018. You can connect with your primary care provider to better understand the new scheduled recommendations.

For women Veterans between the ages of 21 and 29, VA recommends a Pap test every three years.

For women Veterans between the ages of 30 and 65, VA recommends one of three options:

  • A Pap test every three years.
  • Both the Pap and HPV tests every five years.
  • An HPV test every five years.

Speak to your VA provider about how to schedule a cervical cancer screening, your Pap and/or HPV test at your local VA facility.

To contact the Women Veteran Call Center, call 1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636). Staff there can connect you with a program manager at a local VA facility for more information. Additionally, you can chat online via real-time messaging or visit


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