WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Heart Association have entered into a formal agreement to raise awareness of heart disease and strokes among women Veterans and Servicemembers, and wives of Veterans and military members.
“This exciting collaboration bolsters VA’s ongoing efforts to prevent cardiovascular disease,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “This is an important issue for women Veterans, and we need to do everything we can to address it.”
In support of the First Lady’s “Joining Forces” initiative, VA and the American Heart Association’s “Go Red For Women” are partnering to raise awareness among America’s female Veterans of heart disease – the number one killer of women.
“Currently, some eight million women in the U.S. are living with heart disease, yet only one in six American women believes that heart disease is her greatest health threat,” said Dr. Susan Bennett, cardiologist, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and national Go Red For Women spokesperson. “Go Red For Women is excited about our newest strategic alliance with VA because it will provide additional opportunities to increase awareness of women’s number one killer and encourage military women – active, veterans and military wives – to actively prevent heart attacks and stroke.”
The two organizations share a common priority to reach women with important information about heart disease. By combining efforts, they can maximize their resources and improve communication of the “Go Red For Women” messages to women Veterans and military audiences.
VA will focus on educating women Veterans about their risks for cardiovascular disease through the use of “Go Red For Women” online resources. These include “Go Red BetterU,” a free online nutrition and fitness program and “Go Red Heart Match,” a database that allows women to connect with others who share similar experiences. VA and “Go Red For Women” hope to increase consumers’ sensitivity to issues that military women face, especially as it pertains to putting their health first.
“VA continues to focus on women’s cardiovascular disease prevention and outreach, and has improved gaps in heart disease prevention measures between men and women,” said Dr. Robert Jesse, VA’s principal deputy under secretary for health, and a cardiologist. “This collaboration will strengthen our efforts and further the conversation about women’s risks for heart disease.”
Women serve in every branch of the military, representing 15 percent of today’s active duty military and nearly 18 percent of National Guard and reserve forces. Women are now the fastest growing cohort within the Veteran community. In 2011, about 1.8 million or 8 percent of the 22.2 million Veterans were women. The male Veteran population is projected to decrease from 20.2 million men in 2010 to 16.7 million by 2020. In contrast, the number of women Veterans will increase from 1.8 million in 2011 to 2 million in 2020, at which time women will make up 10.7 percent of the total Veteran population.