On May 8, The Royal Canadian Legion’s national Director of Veterans Services, Carolyn Hughes, presented remarks to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on the Experience of Women Veterans. Carolyn highlighted concerns that in the largely male-dominated military institution, there has been little consideration given to the unique physical and mental consequences of service on female Veterans and their overall short and long-term health implications.
She shared that military health care, health research and disability claim adjudication has been largely based on the experience of the average male soldier. This has resulted in systemic biases in Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) decisions on female Veterans’ disability claims.
In her presentation, Carolyn asked the question “A one-size-fits-all may be equal, but it is equitable”? Equipment and policies designed for the male soldier continue to cause physical and mental injury for female Veterans. And these Veterans continue to have to fight for equitable disability benefits, simply because the woman’s injury was unique to being female. As one example, a favourable claim for a male was denied for a female because consideration was not provided for equipment that does not fit a woman’s structure, lower weight or smaller stature. In another example, a favourable claim for a combat male Veteran was denied for a female who served in a non combat occupation, but whose entire career was in a physically active role attached to combat units.
Carolyn stated that Veterans Affairs Canada needs to adjudicate more fairly in consideration of what happened during a woman’s service, the equipment they used, where they served, and how the Armed Forces and the RCMP takes or took care of occupational health and well-being of their female members.
Additionally, she shared that VAC must better collaborate with the Canadian Armed Forces to provide the benefits and services that women Veterans require as they transition from service and as they age. Policies and resources, such as the Entitlement Eligibility Guidelines and the Table of Disabilities, need to be reviewed and updated to better identify the service implications to women’s health, with the benefits and programs funded appropriately, to achieve equitable claim objectives.
(Photographer: Cpl Joey Beaudin, Combat Camera)
About The Royal Canadian Legion
Founded in 1925, the Legion is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization. We are a non-profit organization with a national reach across Canada as well as branches in the U.S. and Europe. With 250,000 members, many of whom volunteer an extraordinary amount of time to their branches, our strength is in our numbers.
Public Relations / Media Inquiries: PublicRelations@Legion.ca