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VA Maryland Health Care System hosts their annual baby shower for expecting mothers

Veteran Baby shower
Posted at 3:09 PM, Jun 16, 2024

BALTIMORE — On Saturday, more than 20 expectant veteran mothers and their families gathered for the Maryland Veteran's Affair's annual baby shower.

"Oh Baby!" was this year's theme.

The event, held at the Loch Raven VA Medical Community Living Center, included food, gifts for moms, and personalized baby bags tailored with clothes, blankets, towels, bottles, and toys.

According to the VA, women comprise approximately 10% of the veteran population nationwide, and nearly half of the nation's 2 million women veterans are of childbearing age.

Catherine Staropoli, the Women's Health Director for VA Maryland, says the VA has came a long way in servicing women veterans.

"I think, historically, a lot of our women veterans have not identified themselves as veterans, and I think that the VA has really changed," said Staropoli. "I have been working here for almost 30 years, and the number of women who serve has increased enormously."

"One of the slogans, 'It's not your grandfather's VA anymore.' We have worked really hard to change the VA over this time. We have expanded our services enormously," Staropoli continued.

Benefits include access to primary care, women-specialized cancer screenings, and mental health services.

One mother in attendance was Nikita Green, a Navy veteran who served her country for almost 10 years, and recently moved to Baltimore. The soon-to-be-mother of two says the event was her first time at a veteran clinic.

"For me, it's a good support. I have been a single mother the whole time. I don't have any family or friends around. I work from home, and the only interaction I have is with my daughter, so it's really nice to have support from the clinic."

"And from a veteran standpoint, it seems like they treat you better when you're out of the military than you do when you're in the military," Green said.

Karen Barnett McCain, a nurse at the VA's Contract Buy-Out Program (CBOP), hopes events like these will help change the perspective of the VA to younger veterans.

"Our younger veterans have the perception that the VA is for older veterans. The VA is for all veterans, those who serve and deserve their benefits," said McCain.