Expanded services for female military veterans

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Connie Russell has been coming to the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center for years. The U.S. Navy veteran has diabetes and needs regular care. She likes the recent changes around the facility.

"The smaller clinic was OK but the waiting room was always filled," says Russell. "There were women there constantly. It was always filled."

It wasn't always separate either. The newly-expanded clinic has its own entrance and double the capacity of the previous one. It offers more services including psychological counseling, maternity services, Ob-Gyn and soon, mammograms conducted in house. No more being sent to another facility.

Why the expansion? It's about the statistics.

There are 2 million female military veterans in the U.S. There are 180,000 of them in Texas alone and a lot of them live in the Houston area.

That's only part of the greater picture according to the women veterans' medical director.

"The Houston VA as well as nationally we've seen the population of female veterans double in the last five years," says Dr. Rula Elserag. "We expect that population increase to continue."            

Here's why -- the average age of female veterans is only forty, much younger than the average age of male veterans. As those female veterans age, just like their male counterparts, they will need more and more medical care. Meeting that future demand just became easier.