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Unveiling the Challenges: A Closer Look at VA Services for Women Veterans in Alaska

Veterans, employees, and dignitaries gathered in the atrium to celebrate the naming of the Alaska VA Clinic after Col. Mary Louise Rasmuson. (AVAHS)
Veterans, employees, and dignitaries gathered in the atrium to celebrate the naming of the Alaska VA Clinic after Col. Mary Louise Rasmuson. (AVAHS)

Anchorage, Alaska - The Department of Veterans Affairs conducts various outreach programs to engage women veterans.

These initiatives aim to inform veterans about available benefits and support services. Outreach in Alaska is the first step to increasing women’s care in the Alaska VA Healthcare System because services, funding, and resources are correlated with the number of veterans enrolled in the VA. 

The AVAHS Women Veterans Program Manager, Anna Bullerdick, emphasized the importance of reaching women veterans, “Alaskan women are tough, and many don’t seek the help that they have earned through their service.” AVAHS offers comprehensive healthcare, including preventive care, reproductive health, and mental health support. The Women Veterans Health Program focuses on providing gender-specific care and addressing the specific health concerns of women veterans. They also offer services related to military sexual trauma and can assist women veterans in accessing appropriate care. 

A significant development for AVAHS is the enactment of the Colonel Mary Louise Rasmuson Campus of the Alaska VA Healthcare System Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on January 5, 2023. This legislation honors Colonel Mary Louise Rasmuson’s impactful legacy, recognizing her contributions to fully integrating women into the U.S. Army. Bullerdick highlights the importance of Colonel Rasmuson’s legacy, “Having her name in our atrium is a daily reminder of our duty to continue fighting for women’s rights, and as a true Alaskan hero, she demonstrated the strength of our Alaskan veterans.” 

Another development for women is the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act. The SERVICE Act was signed into law on June 7, 2022, and it requires the VA to ensure that any veteran who deployed in support of a contingency operation, in specified locations identified in the bill, is eligible for a breast cancer risk assessment and as clinically indicated, mammography screening by a VA health care provider. This Act brings into line, the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act for women veterans.

Open to all women veterans, is the annual Women Veteran’s Conference. This year it is located at Settlers Bay Lodge in Wasilla, on June 22, 2024. According to Bullerdick, “This event brings women veterans together from around the State and increases their camaraderie, while also providing resources and learning about new services available to them at the Alaska VA Healthcare System.” She added that, “We usually try to change the location each year, so that we can bring in more Veterans, however, the largest populations are located around Anchorage and Fairbanks.” Registration information will be posted on the AVAHS website at