VA Begins Initiative for Female Veterans

By John Fabry

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) began an initiative in June attempting to contact every female veteran by phone to talk with them about health care and the gender-specific services available at VA facilities. The calls are made from the Women Veterans Call Center and have reached nearly 1,000 women veterans or their representatives in the first month of calls. A report estimates that there are potentially 1.8 million women to call in this multiyear calling campaign. The person-to-person calls are just one part of VA’s efforts to enhance health care services for female veterans. Female veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the veteran population, comprising nearly eight percent of the total veteran population and six percent of all veterans who use VA health care services. The VA estimates that by 2020 women veterans will constitute 10 percent of the veteran population and 9.5 percent of VA patients.

The VA reports that it has been 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. The VA claims that preventive screenings for breast and cervical cancer are both areas in which it excels nationwide, and that it is building on that success by training more providers to be proficient in women’s health with the goal of implementing comprehensive primary care for women at all VA sites. The VA also launched a unique “Mini-Residency Program on Primary Health Care for Women Veterans” and, since then, more than 1,000 providers interested in women’s health have attended. Now that’s something to talk about!

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