This October, the Military Health System (MHS) celebrates Women’s Health Month. A couple of issues loom large on our women’s healthcare agenda.
From a physical health perspective, heart disease and cancer continue to be the top two causes of death among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As part of the Department of Defense’s focus on healthy living, we’re tackling some of the key issues that contribute to heart disease and cancer: tobacco use and obesity. We’re also striving to make sure that our female beneficiaries are aware of the wide-ranging preventive care, reproductive care and cancer screening options available to them under TRICARE.
Women’s mental health is also a priority for us. Studies show that women tend to experience and react to stress differently than men, so we need to make sure that the women in our military community are aware of the internal and external demands that can be placed on their health, and aware of the mental health resources that are available to them.
The number of women in active service is increasing, and so is the female veteran population. Both DoD and VA are ensuring that our policies, programs and services adapt to the changing workforce. The VA has launched an exceptional awareness campaign – She Was There – that highlights this fact, and helps promote awareness of VA services for women. We should help spread that word.
And, finally, this month we also need to remember this — women are the key influencers for health in the family. Regardless of their beneficiary category, women in the household make many of the healthcare decisions for their families – whether its when to go to the doctor, ensuring preventive services are obtained, or medication and other recovery regimens are maintained. And they often serve as the role models for their spouses and their children too – what food choices are made for breakfast, lunch and dinner; ensuring time is allotted for exercise; and taking positive action to change unhealthy behaviors.
Our outreach to our female beneficiaries can have lasting effects through generations of families. To honor the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters who make vital contributions every day within our defense community, remind them that prevention and healthy lifestyles are key. For more information and resources on women’s health issues, please visit Health.mil.
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