Late Breaking News
DoD to Study the Impact of Wartime Deployment on Women's Health and Mental Outcomes
WASHINGTON, DC—As women Vietnam veterans approach their mid-60s, physicians are finding it more important to understand the impact of wartime deployment on their health and mental outcomes nearly 40 years after service on this under-researched demographic. To try to fill in those research gaps, the DoD is launching a comprehensive study of women veterans who served in the military during the Vietnam War, exploring the effects of their military service on their health.
The study, which began last month and is projected to last more than 4 years, will contact approximately 10,000 women in a mailed survey, telephone interview, and a review of their medical records. It will assess the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical health conditions for women Vietnam Veterans, and explore the relationship between PTSD and other conditions.
Researchers will pay close attention to veterans who may have had direct exposure to traumatic events, and, for the first time, study those who served in facilities near Vietnam who may have had similar, but less direct exposures. Both women veterans who receive their health care from VA and those who receive health care from other providers will be contacted.
Among the 250,000 women Veterans who served in the military during the Vietnam War, about 7,000 were in or near Vietnam. Those who were in Vietnam, those who served elsewhere in Southeast Asia, and those who served in the United States are potential study participants. Women veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the Veteran population. There are approximately 1.8 million women veterans among the nation’s total of 23 million living Veterans. Women comprise 7.8% of the total Veteran population, and nearly 5.5% of all veterans who use VA health care services. VA estimates women veterans will constitute 10.5% of the Veteran population by 2020, and 9.5% of all VA patients.
According to VA, the study represents to date the most comprehensive examination of a group of women Vietnam veterans, and will be used to shape future research on women veterans in future wars. VA hopes that such an understanding will lay the groundwork for planning and providing appropriate services for women veterans, as well as for the aging veteran population.
The study, to be managed by VA’s Cooperative Studies Program, is projected to cost $5.6 million.