MUSKEGON, Mich. — There are roughly 44,000 women veterans living in the state of Michigan. To honor them, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared June 12 "Women Veterans Recognition Day."
In a statement, Whitmer’s office says, "the proclamation, stemming from a Senate resolution put forth by Sen. Peter MacGregor, is the latest critical step in recognizing and supporting women veterans, who have been historically overlooked and under-served."
Nationally, there are about 2 million women vets in this country. That represents 10% of the total U.S. veteran population. In Michigan, women vets are out-pacing men in the numbers as well.
The WINC, or Women Injured In Combat center for women veterans, opened in Muskegon in 2014. It's inside the Muskegon County Veteran's Center.
"I often tell women, come on and join us because we understand," said Jill Mathews, WINC Executive Director.
WINC is a link for women veterans to a long list of services.
"We restore the quality of life for women," Mathews said. "When they come to use they're broke."
Those injuries can be physical but are often the kind of scars that are unseen. It's why WINC offers programs, counseling, social workers and camps.
"We understand what it takes to get them to a better life," Mathews said.
Women veterans offer some of the same healthcare issues as their male counterparts, like PTSD and depression, and others unique to women like sexual trauma.
Based on data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), some challenges they face stem from the circumstances listed below:
- 1 in 4 women veterans responded “yes” when screened for military sexual trauma.
- More than 40 percent of women veterans in the VA system have been diagnosed with a mental health condition.
- A higher percentage of women veterans have a service-connected disability and live in poverty than male veterans.
- Women veterans are two to four times more likely to become homeless than non-women veterans.
- The suicide rate of women veterans is 1.8 times higher than that of non- veteran women.
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