The Main Stream

Aug 17, 2013 7:44 PM by Erika Flores

Southern Arizona VA Health Care System reaching out to women veterans

TUCSON-It's the first of its kind, a health fair in Tucson for Arizona Military and Veteran women.

The Veterans Affairs Health Care system used this fair as an outreach to get eligible women enrolled in their women's program.

The fair also informed women about the services that are offered to them.

The VA estimates there were over 200 women at the event.

Markley Streeper is a disabled veteran enrolled in the Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

"I get all my healthcare here. Everything but dental," said Streeper.

Having served in the Army from 1980 to 1983, she's seen women's healthcare in the VA evolve.

"It's amazing how much they've expanded the women's care," said Streeper.

She said there wasn't a specialized women's unit, and it wasn't always easy getting the necessary care she needed.

"You had to talk to them, stay on top of it because they didn't necessarily want to deal with it. That wasn't in their category," said Streeper.

She first came to the VA in Tucson in 1996.

"They dealt mostly with men and there wasn't much for women," said Streeper.

But the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System designed a women's program.

"Now they've really focused to bring the women in," said Streeper.

They are keeping in mind the increasing number of military women.

"More and more women are serving," said Dr. Sonia Perez Padilla, the medical director of women's health services at the Southern Arizona VA.

She said 20 years ago, they served only 800 women in Southern Arizona, but now that number is up to seven thousand.

"We have this group of women. How can we keep them well? How can we have them 10 years from now not have developed bad outcomes from diabetes, obesity or heart disease," said Padilla.

She hopes with outreach events like this, military and veteran women will become aware of the services offered to them.

"We want that population to know that we're here. Please come see us," said Padilla.

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