Manley column: Women veterans in control of your care at VA


This post first appeared on the White House website.

As we celebrate Women’s Health Week, I am pleased to announce that the VA has adopted American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines that give women a choice to begin screening at age 40.

The guidelines also recommend starting yearly mammograms by age 45 and then every other year from age 55. The guidelines apply to women at average risk for breast cancer and complement VA’s already-extensive program from breast care for veterans.

I believe it’s important for women veterans to know that they are in control of their care and the care they receive from VA is consistent with or exceed care in the private sector. Adopting American Cancer Society standards give veterans further assurances that their care aligns which other health-care systems.

It’s worth drawing attention to a few other related facts:

• All eligible women Veterans have access to mammograms either on site or through care in the communities.

• Currently, 76 percent of women Veterans age 40–49 receive mammograms through VA.
• VA quality scores from the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set, show that women Veterans are more likely to receive age-appropriate breast cancer screening then women in private sector health care.
• In 2015, VA provided mammogram screenings to 86 percent of its women veteran patients ages 50–74 compared with the private sector at 73 percent.

Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Dr. Poonam Alaigh said it best last week: “Engaging and better serving the unique healthcare needs of our women Veterans is one of the VA’s most important priorities. When it comes to their care, we want women Veterans to be in control of it every day and in every way.

For information about VA’s commitment to women veterans, visit or call 855-VA-WOMEN (855-828-6636) for information about VA services and resources.

By Phyllis Manley

Contributing columnist

For questions or general concerns for women veterans, you can contact Manley at [email protected].

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