Women Veterans in CNY Get Personal Care at New VA Wellness Center

Dec 2, 2014

Women Veterans in the Central New York area have a new, larger medical center to treat a variety of needs.  That can mean normal health services and even the effects of sexual assault.

A soothing, private environment is one of the features of the new, expanded Women Veterans' Wellness Center at the Syracuse VA Medical Center.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

An increase in women in the military has led to a change in the care the Syracuse V-A Medical Center needs to provide.  Medical Director Doctor Jim Cody knows.

"There’s a theme in the VA, but it resonates here in Syracuse,  that not every G.I. is a ‘Joe’."

The new Women Veterans' Wellness Center area is enlarged, separate from the other services at the VA, and able to be more private.  Along with primary care, there will be gynecological, mental health and pharmacy services.  Doctor Harbinder Grewal says combining in-patient, outpatient and transition services has led to better health outcomes.  She notes almost a third of patients have experienced military sexual trauma that the center can help treat. 

The Welness Center serves women veterans in a 3-hour radius around Syracuse

  “Many of them never, ever disclosed it.  The first time they talk about it is with us.  The VA has been very open about it.  We want to offer them the best services.  In fact, if our patients were inactive at that time, in the sense they were in the guards but not actively on duty, but they suffered military sexual trauma, they will still be offered services.” 

That can include physical injury, mental health treatment and resultant medical conditions such as anorexia or depression.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who's campaigned for more attention to military sexual assault, helped dedicate the center.

“This is an excellent facility and I hope more VA hospitals around the country see Syracuse and use it as their model.”

The center is open to all women veterans...and treats almost 1000 women currently.