AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine has more than 10,000 women who are military veterans, and they finally have a special clinic at the Togus VA hospital. The clinic was made official today, as veteran Ruby Gilmore –who served just after the Korean War – joined U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Mike Michaud to cut the ribbon-
The director of the VA health care for Maine says the VA currently serves about 2,200 women patients in the state, but hopes to see a lot more. The clinic offers specialists for women's health treatment, and a new home for counseling about problems such as sexual assault in the military and PTSD. Staff members and veterans say having their own clinic will make women feel more welcome at the VA. Several veterans, in fact, told NEWS CENTER the lack of that "welcoming feel" has been an obstacle in the past. Ginny Potter, an Air Force veteran , says men veterans have been "less accepting for women to be in the military and the older the guys get the less accepting they are."
The women vets say having their own clinic will help more women feel comfortable seeking health care and mental health care. Kathy Russin, a VA counselor who helps women who suffered sexual assaults in the military, says, " It's s a safe and welcoming location. The women feel cared for and respected. "
The clinic is located on the ground floor of building 205 on the Togus campus, and some of the veterans say that easy accessibility should also make it easier for more people to seek care at Togus.