BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The number of women in the military has grown rapidly. That's why the Veterans Affairs in Buffalo has taken steps to expand its services to veterans who are women.
"When I got out in 1979, there were hardly any women," recalled Corporal Debbera Ransom, a veteran of the United States Army.
Ransom played a part of military history. She served as a rare female military police officer from 1976 - 1979. Since leaving the Army, Ransom has seen the number of female veterans coming to the VA skyrocket.
"Now women are coming," Ransom said. "They're feeling comfortable and confident in the services that they're getting."
Four-thousand women who served our country get their health care at the VA Center in Buffalo. The number has soared in recent years. It doubled between 2000 and 2010. Women make-up nearly 10-percent of the patients at the VA center.
"We have to plan for the future, and obviously we know how many women are in the military now so we can plan how many will become veterans," explained Jill Lamantia, who manages the Women Veterans Program at the VA of Western New York Healthcare System.
The VA in Buffalo has been working on tripling its Women's Wellness Clinic. On top of expanding general health services, the center is focusing on another major issue -- treating victims of sex crimes. Lamantia says one-third of patients at the center have documented cases of sexual trauma while in the military.
The new layout, which is expanding from 3,000 to 9,000 square feet, will give women much more privacy.
"It's going to be like having a spa, real private," Lamantia said. "They're going to enter from a different doorway than the provider will. Everything's going to be peaceful and calm."
In addition, about half of female veteran patients at the VA Center in Buffalo face some sort of mental health issue. That includes patients suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The expansion also makes seeing a doctor, nutritionist or psychologist much easier. Instead of making female patients go floor to floor to different doctors and staff members, services will be more centrally located in the clinic. "They will actually come to them, the patient won't have to go anywhere," Lamantia said. "Everybody will come to the patient."
The full clinic should open in 2017. The waiting room should open by the end of November. Ransom said she hopes even more women come with the clinic expanding.
"When I started seeing everyone come, it made a difference, because then I said my sisters in arms are coming," Ransom explained.
Any female veteran in need of services at the VA Center can call Lamantia at 716-862-8891. This includes both combat and non-combat veterans.
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