Legislation signed for Women Veterans Health Care - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Legislation signed for Women Veterans Health Care

Posted: Updated:

YAKIMA, Wash. -- They're one of the largest growing demographics of veterans, but utilize services the least, they're women veterans.

There are around 1.8 million female veterans and the number of women using VA services is expected to double in the next five years, which is why new legislation for women veterans will help expand female care. As President Obama signs new legislation for veterans health care Senator Patty Murray stands by, she pushed for expansion of female veteran care.

Right now, women make-up 15-percent of the military.

"And so as we see them coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan they're enrolling with VA services in record numbers," said Joan Leid, Women Veteran Program Manager.

Leid oversees the Central Washington program and said last year they saw an 11-percent increase in women enrolling.

"To all our veterans and your families with this legislation we're building a stronger team at home that you need for the long road to recovery," said President Obama, after signing the legislation.

"We don't have veteran facilities that have separate facilities for women, a lot of women veterans have young children and there's no place for them to go while they're in a VA facility," said Senator Patty Murray, (D) Washington, as she explained why she pushed for women veteran's legislation.

The bill will expand women's services to include health care for newborns and childcare for women seeking mental health services. And while the number of women veterans continues to climb the number utilizing services doesn't match.

"Sometimes women think that they had to serve overseas or in combat or during certain eras, but woman that served during peacetime are also eligible to come to the VA for health care," said Leid.

The bill also authorizes a study for ways to improve women veteran's health care. There are veteran clinics in Yakima, Richland, La Grande and Lewiston so female veterans are encouraged to stop in and see what services they qualify for.