In June, the VA began an unprecedented initiative attempting to contact every female Veteran (potentially 1.8 million women) by phone to talk with them about VA health care and the gender-specific services available at VA facilities. During the first month of calls, the Women Veterans Call Center reached nearly 1,000 women Veterans or their representatives. That is an impressive start to an extensive, multi-year calling campaign.
These person-to-person calls are just one piece of VA’s ongoing endeavor to enhance health care services for women Veterans— one of the fastest growing segments of the Veteran population. Women Veterans comprise nearly eight percent of the total Veteran population and six percent of all Veterans who use VA health care services.
By 2020, VA estimates that women Veterans will constitute 10 percent of the Veteran population and 9.5 percent of VA patients.
VA is aggressively improving its gender-specific services in areas such as reproductive health, osteoporosis management, heart disease, mental health care, menopausal services, diabetes, and obesity-related issues. Preventive screenings for breast and cervical cancer are both areas in which VA excels nationwide, and VA is building on that success by training more VA providers to be proficient in women’s health with the goal of implementing comprehensive primary care for women at all VA sites. More than 1,000 providers interested in women’s health have attended VA’s unique“Mini-Residency Program on Primary Health Care for Women Veterans” since it launched in 2008. All of this is our way of ensuring that VA provides women Veterans the best care anywhere.
Now that’s something to talk about!
The Women Veterans Call Center only makes outgoing calls. However, there are several other ways to reach VA:
- VA health care: 1-877-222-VETS (8387)
- VA benefits: 1-800-827-1000
- To help a Veteran in Crisis (Veteran Crisis Line): 1-800-273-8255, Press 1 to talk with someone
- “New to VA,” a helpful Web site for navigating VA: www.va.gov/opa/newtova.asp
Patricia Hayes, Ph.D., is Chief Consultant of the Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.