One out of every 10 veterans leaving their military commitments is a woman, and as that number grows, so will the cases of PTSD.
Helping these women is proving difficult for the veteran’s administration, a system that historically has focused only on men and now must try a new approach.
Like Navy veteran Tanya Godinez who is going to call ‘The H.O.P.E. Center’ home for the next nine weeks. She was sexually assaulted by a man on her ship 26 years ago and has suffered from PTSD ever since.
“Here, I’m first…and my gratitude is overflowing,” said Godinez.
About one in four women say they were sexually assaulted while serving in the military. As a result, most PTSD cases stem from those assaults. And sadly, some women say they deal with this trauma for decades.
“I kind of look at PTSD as like having a full-time job, where it’s intense,” said Caryn Dilandro, a clinical psychologist and PTSD program manager at H.O.P.E. Center.
The in-patient VA facility near Buffalo is only one of four in the nation for women only dealing with everything from PTSD to depression to anxiety.
“It could be all sorts of physical things. You know, GI (gastrointestinal) is affected and rashes, all sorts of things,” said Jill Lamantia, the women veterans program manager.
Understandably, many women don’t like seeking treatment in facilities that have focused almost exclusively on men, but the VA is changing that.
“I literally meet them at the front door. I walk them everywhere, they need to get used to the building,” said Lamantia.
After years of isolation and coping with PTSD on her own, Navy veteran Amanda Krzyzanowski wants to make sure no other woman has to suffer alone, that all changed for her at the H.O.P.E. Center.
“Now I don’t feel that way, and I’m proud to say that I did it,” said Krzyzanowski.
The VA is trying to reach out to women veterans to let them know they are eligible for care regardless of where or how long they served. Women can also call the VA’s women veterans hotline at 1-855-VA-WOMEN.