CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The Women’s Clinic at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center held its first “Love Your Heart” event on Thursday morning in Clarksburg. The new event is aimed at female veterans and encouraged them to be sure they watch out for themselves, after a career watching out for others.
“They really under-report some stuff just because they’re kind of taught to power through, so we really want our ladies to think of themselves, put themselves first, and certainly feel included,” said VAMC Cardiologist Kristen Bell.
That can be a challenge for veterans of any gender, but for women especially, who may have a hard time discussing some of the more personal women’s health issues they come across.
“We may not feel comfortable sharing some of the personal things that we might have but they actually give us sort of an oasis that we can go into that’s very comfortable, very friendly, and I really appreciate coming here, because it’s not always been that way in the past,” said Ramona Dewitt-Morris, and Army veteran who came to the event Thursday morning.
But it’s not just about the immediate checkup. Doctors at the hospital want to be sure that these women know that they should pay closer attention to their own bodies, because doctors often see women who wait too long.
“Children come first usually, and that’s something that I’ve noticed with a lot of the women that come to me later and already sustained a heart attack. They really just kind of ignored those symptoms and the damage was done so to speak, so we’re trying to actually raise awareness of your symptoms, what they are, and don’t ignore them,” Bell said.
That’s a message that Dewitt-Morris is glad to receive. She hopes that many of her comrades will learn that lesson, too.
“It gives us that awareness, it gives us that information and that education, and we are not afraid to actually open up and make sure we explore those avenues of things that might cause issues for us,” said Dewitt-Morris.