Emily DroobyNov 10, 2017, 9:28 pmNov 13, 2017, 1:50 pm

Female veterans at roundtable in Garfield discuss issues that are affecting them

Lawmakers aim to open dialogue between VA officials and women who served in the armed forces

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GARFIELD — As Veterans Day approaches, New Jersey lawmakers hosted a discussion Friday on how they can handle issues that female veterans face.

Retired U.S. Air Force Marcenia Cofield used to be homeless because she wasn't being properly treated for mental health issues stemming from her service.

"Housing is a big issue because you cannot take housing and your health without putting the two of them together to know that one effects the other," Cofield said. She added that female veterans need to be provided with housing, especially since many of them have children to care for as well.

Cofield was part of an eye-opening roundtable at the Garfield VFW hosted by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Bill Pascrell. Sen. Booker says the intention was to open up a dialogue between veteran officials and female veterans.

"We have so many women in American who have served in the military, and their needs as veterans are not being met because we have a veteran system that's geared towards men," Sen. Booker said.

Female veterans discussed ways in which they could receive better medical treatment. They explained that women have to jump through additional hoops to get something as simple and necessary as a mammogram. They also requested adding doctors to the VA who specialize in women, in that sickness can present itself differently in women than in men.

Many in attendance also complained about the East Orange campus of the VA. The female veterans said women are not treated properly there. They claim it's so bad that they would rather go to private healthcare providers than have to go there.

Sen. Booker says that going forward, along with working on potential legislation, honest conversations with both female veterans and VA representatives is crucial to resolving these issues.

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