Women have served in the military from the American Revolution to the present. Unfortunately, women have been historically underrepresented in utilizing the benefits provided for them, and have often been more reticent in claiming their veteran status. Women now make up 15% of active duty and 18% of Guard/Reserve service members.
Based on the upward trend of women in all branches of service, the number of women veterans and female VA users is expected to double again in the next decade. To that end, the VA has created a number of outreach programs geared towards female veterans.
Women Veterans Hotline
While the number of women VA users continues to grow, women comprise only 6% of VA’s total patient population. Women veterans underutilize VA care and benefits, largely due to a lack of knowledge about VA benefits and available services. In response, the VA has established a Women Veterans hotline—855-VA-WOMEN (829-6636) to receive and respond to questions from women veterans, their families, and caregivers across the nation about available VA services and resources.
VA Benefits and Programs for Women Veterans
Women veterans are entitled to the same VA benefits as male veterans. Gender-specific services and benefits -- including breast and pelvic examinations -- and preventive care such as contraceptive services, menopause management, pap smears, reproductive counseling, and mammography are also available. VA health care professionals are trained to provide counseling and treatment to women suffering the effects of personal and sexual assault/harassment during military service. Care is available for any injury, illness or psychological illness resulting from such trauma.
To ensure the privacy of women veterans, the VA medical centers have introduced a variety of structural changes. Women Veterans' Coordinators are available at all VA facilities to assist women veterans in seeking treatment and benefits. VA also has a program known as the Center for Women Veterans.
Center for Women Veterans
VA's Center for Women Veterans monitors and coordinates VA's administration of benefit services and programs for women Veterans. The center advocates for a cultural transformation that recognizes the service and contributions of women veterans and women in the military, and also raises awareness of the responsibility to treat women veterans with dignity and respect.
Learn more about the Center for Women Veterans.
Women Veteran Coordinators
There are Women Veteran Coordinator (WVCs) located in every regional office who function as the primary contact for women veterans regarding their VA benefits. WVCs provide specific information and comprehensive assistance to women veterans, their dependents, and beneficiaries concerning VA benefits and related non-VA benefits. They may assist in claims intake, development, and processing of military sexual and personal trauma claims.
VA Health Care for Women Veterans
At each VA medical center nationwide, a Women Veterans Program Manager (WVPM) is designated to advise and advocate for women veterans. The WVPM can help coordinate all the services you may need, from primary care to specialized care for chronic conditions or reproductive health. Woman veterans who are interested in receiving care at VA should contact the nearest VA Medical Center and ask for the WVPM.
Learn more about the VA Health Care for Women Veterans.
VA Benefits for Victims of Military Sexual Trauma
VA has special services available to help women who experienced military sexual trauma (MST), including free, confidential counseling and treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to MST.
You do not need to have a service-connected disability or injury, and may be able to receive this benefit even if you are not eligible for other VA care.
You do not need to have reported the incidents when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred in order to receive MST services.
Every VA facility has a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. This person is an advocate and can help find and access VA services and programs, state and federal benefits and community resources.
For more information see our page describing treatment, resources, and possible compensation for victims of sexual trauma in the military. Learn more about MST and other violence and abuse from the National Center for PTSD.
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