Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Vietnam Veterans of America had a female commander in the 1980s.
WASHINGTON — Nine years ago, when Army veteran Delphine Metcalf-Foster went to her local Veterans Affairs hospital for a knee replacement, she asked her doctors if they would use a female-specific prosthesis.
They said they never considered getting any.
“I realized then there needed to be more education,” she said. “Women don’t have the same bone structure as men. But they just always used a unisex knee. Maybe if (the injury) hadn’t happened to me, I would have just assumed that it wasn’t a problem.”
“I think it means a lot,” she said. “It means a lot to me personally, but it also means a lot to bring that new experience to the job. I have seen things that need to change, and unless we advocate for them, we cannot change them.”
The largest veterans organizations have long been seen as dominated by men, especially before the recent wars dramatically increased the number of women with military and combat service. Army vet Mary Stout served as commander of Vietnam Veterans of America from 1987 to 1991, but none have followed in the last 25 years.
But in recent years, that image has begun to change.