Female Vets get dedicated assistance 

By Allie Nash

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The state's female veterans will have a program and a liaison dedicated to their issues under a law that takes effect July 1.

Senate Bill 354 creates the Hoosier Women Veterans Program and authorizes the state to hire a coordinator to oversee the program.

The program is meant to help the more than 37,000 female veterans in Indiana learn about the services available to them and assess what special needs they might have.

"Providing women with benefits is a different challenge," said Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs Deputy Director Russ Eaglin. "Women have different healthcare needs."

Eaglin said Veterans Administration hospitals have generally been geared toward serving men, which sometimes makes it hard for women to go to them for help.

"There are still some things they need to change statewide," Eaglin said.

Currently, the state veteran affairs office has an interim women's coordinator who works part-time. But the additional duties are expected to lead to a full-time post.

But Eaglin said that full-time position probably won't be filled until after the 2015 legislative session, when the agency could receive additional funding.

The new law also requires the women's program to review research designed to address women veterans' needs, make recommendations to the agency's director to improve benefits and services for women veterans and incorporate women's issues into the agency's strategic planning.

Allie Nash is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

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