N.J. considers providing more services for women vets

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Legislation in the wings could mean women veterans in New Jersey will have an easier time getting the services they need.

The Assembly’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee has advanced a measure to provide travel assistance to veterans so they can get to treatment and counseling programs.

It’s important for female veterans to have access to treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction, said Army veteran Penny Cleaves during a Wednesday hearing on the legislation.

“Twenty percent of the women come out of the military on drugs or alcohol. It’s the stress of being a female in the military, or being a single parent in the military, of combat, said Cleaves, a Paterson resident. “You look for other relief when you can’t find it where you are.”

Barbara Kim-Hagemann, who leads the New Jersey VFW women’s veterans committee, said female veterans need more services.

“Women are really neglected. They’re kind of combined with the men,” she said. “We need different issues addressed and taken care of, such as child care for the women, job fairs for the women, counseling for the children, these kids need to get some counseling for mommy readjusting.”

Proposed legislation would also require the New Jersey Adjutant General to create an informational Web page for female veterans that addresses their legal rights, medical and insurance issues, education, and the transition from active service to civilian life.

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