I receive press releases every day announcing various initiatives and campaigns that are pertinent to veterans. Today, I learned about the Department of Veterans Affairs' major outreach effort targeting women veterans. I guess it caught my eye because I am a veteran myself (and a woman) and I understand how important it is to reach this small but rapidly growing segment of service members.
According to the release, the VA is interested in soliciting input on ways to enhance health care services VA provides to women veterans. In order to accomplish this goal, representatives at VA's Health Resource Center are placing calls to women veterans nationwide asking them to share their experiences with VA and suggest potential enhancements that will further VA's mission to provide to provide the best care possible.
Women Veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the Veteran population. Of the 22.7 million living Veterans, more than 1.8 million are women. They comprise nearly 8 percent of the total Veteran population and 6 percent of all Veterans who use VA health care services.
VA estimates by 2020 women Veterans will constitute 10 percent of the Veteran population and 9.5 percent of VA patients. The HRC, which started placing calls on June 1, is contacting women Veterans who have enrolled, but have not begun using VA services.
“Through this contact center, we are placing friendly, conversational calls to women Veterans,” said Patricia Hayes, chief consultant of the VA’s Women Veterans Health Strategic Health Care Group. “We want these Veterans and their caregivers to talk candidly about why they are not using VA, whether they are aware of the gender-specific services we offer, and what additional services they would like to see VA offer.”
The HRC representatives making the calls are also informing women Veterans about the services VA offers and quickly connecting them with appropriate departments if they are interested in trying VA health care. Veterans who have complaints about VA are connected to a patient advocate who helps resolve issues.
The Women Veterans Health Care program has made significant changes in the last few years to enhance the health care offered to eligible women Veterans.
This progress includes:
Adopting key policies to improve access and enhance services for women Veterans;
Implementing comprehensive primary care for women Veterans;
Conducting cutting-edge research on the effects of military service on women’s lives;
Improving communication and outreach to women Veterans; and
Providing mental health, homelessness and other services designed to meet the unique needs of women Veterans
For more information about VA programs and services for women Veterans, please visit: www.va.gov/womenvet and www.publichealth.va.gov/womenshealth.