On April 23, 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched its new Women Veterans hotline—1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636)—an incoming call center that receives and responds to questions from women Veterans, their families, and caregivers across the nation about available VA services and resources.
“The Women Veterans Call Center is aimed at increasing women Veterans’ knowledge of all VA services and benefits that they deserve,” said Krista Stephenson, Army Veteran and Women Veterans Call Center Director.
Since 2000, the number of women using VA health care has more than doubled, from nearly 160,000 to more than 360,000 in 2012. Women now make up 15 percent of active duty and 18 percent of Guard/Reserves 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.
Despite this rapid growth, women constitute only six percent of VA’s total patient population. VA has also found that women Veterans underutilize VA care, largely due to a lack of knowledge about VA benefits and available services. In response, an outbound Call Center was established in 2010 to contact women Veterans and encourage them to try VA care. It has been expanded, and the Call Center’s telephone agents now receive incoming calls and inquiries about VA care and other services for women.
“All our telephone agents have received general education regarding services that the VA provides women Veterans,” said Stephenson.
They are informed about eligibility, benefits, health care and other services, and can route calls within VA when needed. Agents are also trained to respond to crisis situations such as suicidal behavior, homelessness, sexual trauma, and domestic violence.
1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636) provides a single avenue for women Veterans to get the help they need.
“They just have the one number to call and our telephone agents will be able to direct them appropriately and to provide them the information that they need,” said Stephenson. “We also have established agreements for warm handoffs to VA programs such as the Veterans Crisis Line and the Caregiver Support Line. We are also working collaboratively with other VA Departments for those Veterans who have questions regarding VA benefits and health eligibility.”
In these cases, Stephenson added, the Call Center follows-up with women Veterans within 30 days to ensure they received the services they needed.
VA aims to meet the unique needs of women Veterans by delivering the highest quality of health care to each woman, while offering privacy, dignity, and sensitivity to gender-specific needs that she deserves. VA covers a full continuum of care, including comprehensive primary care, mental health services, as well as emergency and specialty care. In addition, VA provides gynecology services, maternity care, caregiver support, crisis support and help for homeless Veterans. With one phone call, women Veterans can discover all the VA has to offer.
As telephone agent Tamatha Lee stated, “I think the benefit of having a call center that focuses on women Veterans is that we are letting the women who served our country know we recognize that they are out there, and we are here to serve them now.”
Women Veterans Call Center
Women Veterans Call Center Business Card