(emotional piano music)
– Being able to serve your country
and fulfill that duty is
such a massive undertaking.
It’s important that
after all that time that
they come home and that
their needs are met.
As an actor playing the role of
Major Sonia Holloway on 68 Whiskey,
I’ve learned that more
than 345 thousand women
have deployed since 9/11, and that the
fastest growing population
of veterans are women.
But women aren’t getting the respect
and quality of healthcare
they’ve earned from
Veteran’s Affairs medical centers and
clinics across the country.
It’s time to fix this problem.
This is an opportunity for
me to roll my sleeves up
and try to create a difference and do
something about something
I really believe in.
– Hey Richard, I need your help.
– It’s time to enroll in the VA.
Where do I even start?
– When I joined, I went
to a local VA clinic.
– I tried to look this up, but
it is not obvious on the internet.
– Yeah, it’s not. Nothing
about the VA is obvious.
Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.
– No, it’s OK.
– Lindsay Rodman is a Major in the
US Marine Corps Reserves.
She served on active duty for eight years,
including deployments to
Okinawa and Afghanistan.
Now, she works for Iraq and
Afghanistan Veterans of America,
better known as IAVA, where she’s fighting
to make sure women veterans are recognized
and supported at the VA.
I invited Lindsay to
meet me in Los Angeles
so I could learn more about this issue and
see what I can do to help.
– (mumbles) Mommy’s going
to go to California, Daddy.
(groovy guitar music)
Such a pleasure to meet you in person.
The real-life Sonia Holloway, and more.
Meeting a woman face-to-face who has
real life experience with
what I’m doing on the show
– is such an honor and a privilege,
so I’m so happy you’re here.
– Oh, thank you.
– And I can’t wait to tell you
about all the stuff we’re working on
at AIVA too.
– Good, me too.
We’re wrapping it up. We’re
on the last episode and–
On the show, so much of it was like,
OK, what is this life
that I’m stepping into?
– I had so much fun on active duty,
but I had to work really hard while I was
in the military to be a
part of the boy’s club,
and I don’t want to get my healthcare
in that environment.
You just want to go to the hospital
and just be yourself, 100 percent.
And that really, I guess, scared me away
from going to the VA.
– What did you bump
into that you were like,
this needs to change?
– For example, some of the trailblazers
who came before me went
to VAs where there was
literally no women’s health provider.
– Yeah. Now, there might be
a women’s health provider
but they might three
hours away across town.
– Or they might only be
available on Tuesday.
And unfortunately there isn’t urgency
at the VA to actually confront that issue.
– So what is IAVA trying
to accomplish with this?
– We are asking people to support
the Deborah Sampson Act.
What it does is it provides the VA
with the resources it
needs to bring the care
that we provide to women veterans
up to the standards that we’ve come
to expect for male veterans.
– Lindsay is one of more than
two million living women veterans.
– So I have three women
that I’m really excited
to introduce you to.
– I’m eager to hear more of their stories
so I can get a clear understanding
of what they’re facing and
what’s important to them.
– This is Krishna.
– Hi, nice to meet you.
– Krishna America Flores, Corporal,
United States Marine Corps. Oorah!
– Liz and Sarah.
– Hi Sarah, nice to meet you.
– Nice to meet you.
– Thanks for being here. Hi Liz.
– Sarah Serrano, Sergeant,
United States Marine Corps.
– Lizeth Robertson, Aviation
Third Class, United States Navy.
– Krishna, tell me about your service
and active duty experience.
– Are you ready for this?
– Yeah. (laughs)
– Are you ready? All right. I served the
United States Marine
Corps. I did four years
active duty. So, this
is what Iraq looks like.
That’s a convoy. This
is my security squad.
I volunteered to go with a different unit,
doing convoy security with MPs.
– You’re the only woman.
– There’s two.
– This is my friend,
Tucker. He died in Iraq.
I get very emotional about it.
And I know I didn’t
have the best experience
out there and my squad
treated me like shit,
but there were a couple of guys,
who in the end, were solid.
– Well, unlike these
ladies, I was in the Navy.
I was a grease monkey.
My job was to launch,
recover and do inspections of F-18s,
and in my shop, for some
time, I was the only female.
– Wow. So what was the hardest part
about being the only women
amongst all these men?
– Proving your name.
– Proving your name?
– Getting the respect that you deserve.
There’s a double standard, period.
– For women, in all branches. It left some
deep scars, you know?
– And I know my sisters know that.
– So, transitioning out of service,
how do you find it now?
– When I go to the VA now, I dress down.
I wear, like, big chunky
sweaters. No makeup.
– I don’t wear short
skirts. They pass my knees
if I wear a dress to the
VA, because of cat calls.
– Oh, no, I never wear
anything cute, because then-
And now it’s not just the Marines,
and I’m back to normal,
so I’m wearing my normal
clothes. It’s even worse.
– For me when I was in the
I had an incident that
occurred which left me
with a lot of anger and anxiety.
First time I went to
the VA, let’s just say
I left running and crying out of there,
because there were Vietnam veterans
that were not used to seeing women
and a lot of them were like yelling.
“Hey, you see” and I’m like
whoa! I was like, “excuse me?”
And they’re like, “This is for veterans”
and I’m like, “And I
served eight years in the
United States Navy”. And they’re like,
“Your husband does not count.”
And I’m like…
– When this is happening,
where is somebody?
– They’re oblivious.
– Nobody’s saying anything.
– Doing their own thing. They kind of just
glance and they’re like,
“Oh well, whatever.”
– What do you wish had been
available to you that wasn’t?
– The first one: improving
access to services.
– Depending on the VA can literally mean
we don’t have enough women’s bathrooms.
– Honestly, some people
don’t even want medicine.
I went in there and I
didn’t want any narcotics.
I want somebody to sit there with me
and figure out what it is that I got to do
to get better. I miss the
person that I used to be.
– Integrating healthcare
for women, in services
and resources, together,
that’s the most important part.
– Women need to know that
somebody’s in my corner.
Somebody’s there for me, you know?
(murmurs of agreement)
– It is us.
– Yeah. And I think that
by speaking about this,
hopefully that’s what we can
achieve in raising awareness.
It’s because of your
stories that some change
is going to happen, so thank
you so much for sharing.
– Thank you!
(acoustic guitar music)
– My mind is kind of blown after
talking to these women.
– I feel like I’m just
beginning to understand
the needs of vets and
really understand that
more people need to pay attention.
This is just a small handful of women.
– So I’m thinking these stories
are out there and they’re not being heard.
I feel so inspired by all of you
and really want to get some more answers
because there’s got to
be a way to change this.
The demand is higher than ever.
– They’re certainly not ready to meet
the needs of the women who are
coming down the pipeline.
– To find out what the VA needs
to better serve women veterans,
we’re meeting with Dr. Fatma Batuman,
the medical director of
the women’s health program
at the VA in Greater Los Angeles.
One of the largest in
the entire VA system.
– I think we are one of the prime leaders
in women’s healthcare.
We call it “one-stop shop”.
As a veteran, you come in and you can see
your primary care provider, you can see
your mental health provider, you can
talk to your social worker, you can
get your prescriptions.
– It sounds like you
guys in the LA county,
you feel you’re set up to handle these
needs and wants of the women.
How would you like to see everything
improve all around?
– Well, we work hard.
We are trying to develop
an environment that’s safe. Most new VAs,
they have independent clinics: it’s just
a woman’s clinic. I think it takes time
to change the culture and our goal
is to make it better there for you.
– Can you talk a little bit about
where you think the resources
are going to be needed
to make sure that we’re taking care of
the female population, especially
as it grows?
– When they built this clinic,
they only had 400 women.
Today, we see 10 thousand
women, but the space
is the same space. I want to train more
women’s health providers.
We want to train our
mental health providers.
We need social workers.
Gynecology services are very
limited in certain areas.
Unfortunately, it takes resources.
Where the resource comes from,
it comes from Congress.
– If they provide those, then I think
every VA will provide excellent care
for our veterans.
(emotional piano music)
– I’m hopeful that some
of what’s in the act
will create the resources to really
enable them to provide
the kind of healthcare
that we’re looking for. Of course,
organizations like mine are going to be
watching like a hawk to make sure that
they’re taking care of
women the right way.
(emotional piano music)
– It’s a massive undertaking.
It’s not going to
change overnight. I think
we all agreed on that
and I think, you know, we all agreed that
things need to change.
– I’m really happy that
people like Lindsay
are speaking up and advocating
and I think the best way to go about that
is to get Congress to see that these needs
are real. People are asking for them.
Their lives depend on these changes
and that there’s more
that can be done to help.
The Deborah Sampson Act was introduced
to recognize the service of women veterans
and ensure they receive
equal treatment at the VA,
now and long into the future.
I’m writing my senator
to demand she support
this legislation. Go to
where you can directly
contact your representatives.
These women put their
lives on the line for us.
Now we must take action for them.