Over the years, more and more women have enlisted in the military. However, even though women make up 15% of active duty, women are still underrepresented when it comes to benefits. Within a decade the number of women veterans is expected to double in size. To ensure those female veterans have access to benefits and services, the VA has formed a few new programs as well as revised old guidelines.
Hotline for Women Veterans
Although the number of female VA users has increased, women only make up 6% of the VA’s patient total. Part of why this number is so low is due to the lack of knowledge to what VA benefits and services women veterans have. To make more female veterans aware of what benefits they are entitled to, the VA has created a Women Veterans hotline. By calling 1-855-VA-WOMEN (829-6636), the VA will respond to questions from women Veterans and their families across the country about what VA services and resources are readily available.
Gender-specific Services and Benefits
Both women and male veterans are entitled to the same VA benefits. However, more gender-specific services and benefits have been established. Benefits for women include:
- Breast and pelvic examinations
- Contraceptive services
- Menopause management
- Reproductive counseling
Like men, women are entitled to care for any injury, illness, or psychological illness. In addition, counseling, and treatment for victims of sexual assault or harassment during military service is available by trained VA health care professionals.
Women who experienced military sexual trauma (MST), such as rape, physical assault, domestic battering, and stalking, have complete access to free and confidential counseling and treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to MST. Veteran women can receive these benefits even if they are not eligible for other VA services. To receive MST services, you are not required to have proof or documentation that the incident occurred.
Programs for Women Veterans
Many structural changes have been made within the VA to ensure the privacy of women veterans is respected. At every VA facility, there are Women Veteran’s Coordinators who can assist women veterans in finding treatment and benefits. Women Veteran’s Coordinators can help a female veteran with a number of things including claims intake, development, and processing of military sexual and personal trauma claims.
Women have often reported that they feel invisible as Veterans. To address this issue, The Center for Women Veterans (CWV), aims to raise awareness about the service and sacrifice of women veterans. Additionally, the CWV helps to both monitor and coordinate VA’s administration of benefit services and programs.