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Services Available to Women Veterans

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female veteranWithin the veteran population, women are the fastest growing group. The VA has improved their benefits and programs available to women in the last ten years. This is an overview of some such programs. If you are a female veteran, it is important to know what services are available to you.

  • Health promotion and disease prevention services
  • Primary Care
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Gynecological and breast care
  • Maternity care
  • Acute medical and surgical care
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Mental health services
  • Rehabilitation

How to access these services:

You can apply for services by filling out the VA Form 10-10EZ at your local Veterans Service Center located in any Veteran Medical Center nationwide. The Veterans Service Center staff will be more than happy to get you started with your application.

Child Care Pilots and Women Veterans Taskforce

VA Medical Centers nationwide now have Women Veterans Program Managers who are designated to assist women veterans. This coordinator helps coordinate services you need ranging from primary care, mental health services, sexual abuse counseling, medical services, and more. Call your local VA Medical Center for more information and services.

The Child Care Pilot Program

The Veteran Affairs has announced the launch of the VA’s Child Care Pilot Program. VA drop-in childcare services are available for women veterans who have appointments at the VA Medical Center.

The Women Veterans Taskforce

This taskforce is chaired by the VA Chief of Staff. The goal of the taskforce is to develop in coordination with the VA’s Advisory Committee on Women Veterans and in conjunction with the Department of Defense, an action plan that focuses on key issues women veterans deal with. The taskforce will also focus on action plans in addressing these issues. Some of the issues the taskforce is and will be addressing are as follows:

• Childcare

• Military Sexual Trauma

• Ob/Gyn

• Aging

• End-of-Life issues

The Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group

This program provides strategic support to implement positive changes in the provisions of care for all women veterans. This program was created in 1988 to streamline services for women veterans in providing cost-efficient psychosocial and medical care. The program addresses the needs of health care for women veterans while ensuring equitable, comprehensive, and timely health care services are available and provided in safe environments in VA hospitals nationwide.

The overall mission of the program is as follows:

• State of the art health care technology and equipment

• Privacy, dignity, sensitivity, and safety to gender-specific needs

• Comprehensive medical care by a competent primary care provider

• The right care in the right place and time

Military Sexual Trauma Services

Why is there a need for such services?

Women have experienced sexual harassment, sexism, and rape in the military. The Veteran Affairs offers extensive counseling and therapy programs for women veterans suffering from military sexual trauma. Military sexual trauma is caused by sexually-related trauma such as rape, sexual assaults, inappropriate touching, inappropriate comments, and many others. If you have been raped, the VA can help. You no longer have to deal with this issue alone. There are qualified and caring therapists available at the VA Medical Center local to your area who want to help. Your counseling sessions are confidential. In order to receive mental health care at the VA Medical Center, you will need a referral from your primary care doctor. Simply inform your primary care doctor that you are interested in obtaining counseling services and he/ she should be more than happy to assist you.

Domestic Violence

Women in the military prove reluctant to report being assaulted by their partner. Some military women fear reporting domestic assaults will harm their military career. The Department of Defense operates a Family Advocacy Program (FAP) where active duty female military members can report crimes of domestic violence. If you are a woman veteran, you should not have to feel trapped in an abusive relationship. The Veteran Affairs offers help and outreach to any veteran who is suffering from domestic violence. If you are a woman veteran and you are suffering from domestic violence, please take the first step to your freedom by contacting the Women Veteran’s Coordinator at your local VA Hospital for assistance and guidance.

Important note: The FAP does not discriminate against men who are reporting domestic violence crimes. Female military members and male military members can report crimes to this agency.

Homeless Women Veterans with Children

Contact your local VA Medical Center and request to speak to a homeless coordinator. You can also request to speak to anyone in the Social Work Department or the Women Veterans Health Coordinator. They can discuss with you the options available to you in your area. You can also call the VA Homeless Program on their hotline number that is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will speak with certified counselors who are trained to help homeless veterans or veterans who are at high-risk of becoming homeless. The number for the VA Homeless Program hotline is: 1-877-424-3838

Reproductive Health

Women Veterans Health Care is addressing the reproductive health issues that many women veterans face. The program has implemented safer prescribing measures for women veterans of childbearing age as a top priority. Other important measures are including follow-up care for abnormal mammograms, tracking timeliness of breast cancer treatment, and ensuring coordination of care for women receiving non-VA emergency department care and maternity services.

Maternity Care

The Veteran Affairs covers maternity care for women veterans in conjunction with civilian local hospitals and clinics. Contact the Women Veterans Health Program Coordinator at your local VA hospital for further information on this program.

If you were involuntarily discharged before 1974 due to pregnancy:

You may qualify for compensation and pension, vocational rehabilitation and employment, burial benefits, and home loan guaranty. Contact your local VA Regional Offices to gain more information on your entitlement benefits.

Nursing Home Care

If you find that you need nursing home care, you must officially enroll into the VA medical health care system for medical benefits. Then you have to enroll in a primary health care clinic. This clinic will perform the needed evaluation in determining the length and duration of services you will require with nursing home care.

Support Groups

The Veterans Hospital hosts numerous support groups for women suffering from military sexual trauma, PTSD, recovering from drug and/or alcohol addictions, and other issues. These support groups are hosted by qualified therapists who have claimed great success with the support groups offered to women veterans. If you are interested in attending a support group, contact the mental health department in your local VA Medical Center. If you already have a therapist, voice your desire to attend a support group and he/ she should be more than happy to introduce you to a group.

How to Obtain a Clinic Appointment when there are Long Waiting Lists

If you have an urgent medical condition, you can visit the Urgent Care Clinic located in your local VA Medical Center and stress to the staff your urgent medical condition. If the staff considers your urgent condition something that can wait until the following day, you have the option of visiting the Emergency Room to visit a physician on-call for that day/night.

How to Obtain Inpatient Psychiatric Care

Contact your local primary health care provider in your VA Medical Center. If you already have a therapist, please discuss your concerns with him/her.

Women’s Trauma Recovery Group

This is a 60-day inpatient, post-traumatic stress and military sexual trauma treatment program for women. The program serves women veterans who are coping with PTSD and military sexual trauma. For more information on this recovery group, please visit the following link: www.womenvetsPTSD.va.gov

TIP: Special PTSD centers for women have been established in the following areas:

•Boston,MA

•Cincinnati,OH

• Bay Pines, FL

•Palo Alto,CA

War Zone Stress

More women than ever before are serving our country in war zones, disaster relief, peacekeeping forces, and humanitarian missions. Women are transporting our wounded, troops ready for battle, supplies, ammunition, and many other things into hostile territories. Women are experiencing the same combat threats as their male counterparts. The following are common things women experience in relation to war deployments:

Combat

Women military members are trained for combat. Women, not unlike their male counterparts, are experiencing hostile enemy fire, returning fire, and viewing casualties. Women veterans and male veterans continue to suffer from trauma from these military duties after returning home.

Worrying about family

Men and women veterans alike worry about their families who are back in the home front. Women in particular find it more difficult when deployed to war for long periods of time. If there is trouble on the home front, men and women veterans may begin to feel overloaded with stress. When they return home, women veterans find it extremely difficult at times to fall back into the role of “mother.” This can prove to be a conflicting and difficult time for all involved.

Feeling isolated and alone

When women veterans are deployed to war, they feel part of a group and this proves important in maintaining high morale. However, sometimes women, not unlike men, can be deployed to different groups or companies where they do not know anyone. This leaves women veterans feeling unsupported and proves difficult in trying to adapt to

their new situation. The same proves true when women veterans return home. These stressors are the foundation of “war zone stress” for numerous women veterans returning home. These stressors also are mitigating factors in women veterans not adapting properly to civilian life. Most women veterans merely need time in readjusting, but sometimes, women veterans develop more serious conditions such as PTSD.

Getting Your Disability Claim Re-evaluated

You can request a re-evaluation at any time. Submit a request for re-evaluation by filing VA Form 21-4328 Statement in Support of Claim. Ensure that you include the following information with your claim:

• Your full name

• Social security number

• Current address

• Day and evening contact information

• Statement explaining changed information for filing claim for re-evaluation

• New and pertinent medical information to support your claim

Home Loan Guaranty

If you are interested in applying for a home mortgage, you can utilize your Home Loan Guaranty benefit in obtaining a great deal for a home mortgage. To get the process started, you can contact the Veteran Affairs and ask about the Home Loan Guaranty Program.

Employment Options and Help for Women Veterans

Department of Labor

There is a Women’s Bureau within the Department of Labor (DOL) that aids women veterans specifically in finding jobs. Additionally, there are Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialists (DVOPS) and Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVER) who can help veterans find jobs. Your local Department of Labor should have a LVER or DVOPS.

When you are applying for unemployment benefits ensure that you identify yourself as a woman veteran and you will be directed to helpful resources and departments.

Department of Veteran Affairs, Office of Human Resources Management

If you desire to work in a community to help military veterans and family members, the VA is a governmental agency worth considering. There are numerous jobs available that ensure you are making a difference in the lives of military veterans. If you are interested in a career with the Veteran Affairs, you must first visit the Office of Human Resources Management. This is the department that lists all job vacancies with the Veteran Affairs in your area and is located inside your local Veteran Affairs hospital. If you do not have the time to visit the Veteran Affairs Human Resources department at your local VA hospital, you can always search for job openings at the following websites:

VA National Job Employment office: www.va.gov/jobs

USA Jobs: www.usajobs.gov

This website provides information regarding government vacancies for jobs in all federal government agencies such as the Veteran Affairs, Homeland Security, Office of Personnel Management, and many more. Simply input your zip code or city you are located and you will be able to locate numerous opportunities for jobs with the federal government.

Important note: If a veteran was an army medic or navy corpsman, he/she can use military training as a qualification for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) employment. Military training records, a DD2586 file, can be used to get an EMT certificate.

Conclusion

Women veterans have been serving our country dating back to the Civil War. Women did not receive the glory that their male-counterparts received and still receive to this day. Women veterans are special in the fact that they are mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and yes, they are military members who proudly serve our country. After serving your country proudly, it is now time to let your country take care of you. If you have not enrolled at your local VA Medical Center, please allot the time to do so. There are numerous benefits and services available for you to take advantage of. We support women veterans and we want to thank you for your unselfish service to our country.