Dr. Menard, appointed in 1992 by then-VA Secretary Edward Derwinski, chairs the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to conducting committee meetings and site visits, Dr. Menard has testified before the Senate and House committees on veterans affairs and advises VA Secretary Jesse Brown on issues pertaining to women veterans.
The committee, composed of female veterans employed outside of Veterans Affairs, has the power to make recommendations. "We know and we care about women veterans," said Dr. Menard. "We can be much more open and truthful in what we say and recommend."
Currently, only 2 to 4 percent of women veterans use VA facilities. This number is expected to rise to 10 percent or 12 percent because there are more female veterans than in the past. Menard also said usage is expected to increase because the women are younger than those in the past, thus they have more years ahead of them in which to use VA services.
The goal of Dr. Menard and her committee is to make VA hospitals aware of female veterans' needs and fulfill those needs. This goal is in line with the Women Veterans Health Equity Act of 1992, which requires VA hospitals to provide equitable care for women. Dr.Menard has delivered congressional testimony on the act.
The committee has made many recommendations concerning privacy for both male and female patients, health care for female veterans and services for women who were sexually assaulted while in the military. Women veteran coordinators who work with female patients and inform them of services have also been suggested and implemented in many facilities.
Positive results have come from the committee's work. Four comprehensive women's clinics that will provide special health services such as mammograms and well-woman care have been approved with four more to be established in the near future. Also, four full -time regional coordinators have been appointed to coordinate and communicate services for female veterans.