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Arkansas' women veterans get help navigating benefits system

Arkansas' women veterans get help navigating benefits system
Donna Shelton - Fri Nov 05, 2010 @ 05:43AM
Comments: 4
The state's women veterans are now 20,000 strong. But officials say some are having trouble navigating the benefits system because they are not aware of their entitlements after service. Rhonda Norman, a Gulf War veteran was among that group. Her time serving in the war is far from a distant memory; in fact she has a host of medical problems that serves as a constant reminder. "They give me a lot of names for my problems; connective tissue disorder, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, things of that nature," said Norman. The veteran now gets medical care from the VA hospital -- a military benefit she says took years before she realized she had. "I fought the VA system for 9 years before I could really get somebody to listen that 'hey, I am disabled and I do have some issues'," Norman said. Cheryl Rawls, the Little Rock director of the VA regional office says there's another part to the problem. Arkansas now boasts a growing number of women veterans in all branches of the military. "Women don't typically don't see themselves as veterans. And women typically when they are done serving, they come back and they go into their traditional roles as the caretaker and not as a person that should be taken care of," Rawls said. Arkansas now has more than 20,000 of the nation's 1.8 million women veterans. Both Rawls and the associate director of the VA women center in DC, Dr. Betty Brown, say the problem is the same everywhere The first annual women's veteran summit has brought hundreds of those women together to address the issues. "What we are in the midst of is informing women about their benefits, where they can go to get their benefits, and what their benefits consist of," said Rawls. "I think it's wonderful because we in Washington are trying to enhance the benefits and services for women and men veterans," said Dr. Brown. Things have changed substantially in the armed forces but Brown says one thing remains the same: veterans -- women and men -- always have a place to turn to in times of need. The Arkansas Department of Veteran's Affairs believes outreach to all veterans is important regardless of gender. Men and women looking for assistance can call the department at (501) 370-3820. Watch video here: http://www.todaysthv.com/news/news.aspx?storyid=125143.
Comments: 4

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