Women Veterans Health Care
VA is Here for Women Veterans During COVID-19 and Beyond
In this time of physical distancing, VA knows it’s easy for women Veterans to feel isolated. Life plans and health can change in an instant. That is why VA is working to remove barriers and improve access to essential services. These services include reproductive health care, refilling prescriptions, and accessing the Veterans Crisis Line and Women Veterans Call Center.
As states and cities across the nation have issued stay-at-home orders, VA encourages Veterans enrolled in VA health care to take advantage of our virtual tools to access care. These include secure video appointments from home, mobile health apps and online appointment requests.
For example, VA Video Connect allows Veterans to connect with their care team and have a face-to-face visit with their doctor. Veterans can also refill their prescriptions by sending their doctor a secure message through My HealtheVet. Using virtual tools, Veterans can avoid exposure to the coronavirus and keep their loved ones and fellow Veterans safe. Veterans can send a message to their providers or contact their local VA medical center to learn more about what telehealth services are available.
Information on Contraception
VA also encourages women Veterans staying at home to speak to their providers about contraception. Currently, women Veterans can receive a one-year prescription for oral contraceptives (three months dispensed and three refills). For convenience, Veterans can meet with their doctor regarding reproductive health through VA’s telehealth services.
The Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) is also here to help answer questions about VA benefits and services. Call or text the WVCC at 1-855-VA-WOMEN (or 1-855-829-6636) Monday through Saturday.
VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program (IPVAP) is still available to help women Veterans, their partners, and VA staff impacted by intimate partner violence (IPV). The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an important resource for anyone experiencing IPV.
For more information on how women Veterans can safely receive assistance for IPV, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit the VA website to find out how to speak to a local IPVAP coordinator.
Provider and Nurse Training on Women’s Health Continues to be on the Move in Rural Areas
The number of women Veterans continues to increase at a fast pace. As a result, the number of women Veterans receiving health care from VA has more than tripled since 2000, growing from more than 159,000 in 2000 to more than 510,000 in 2018, driving an increased need for gender-specific health care. As of May 2017, 26% of enrolled women Veterans lived in rural areas. These are areas that have ongoing needs for more trained primary care providers designated as Women’s Health Primary Care Providers (WH-PCPs) and nursing staff trained in women’s health.
To better support women Veterans’ long-term health and well-being, including those in rural communities, VA continues to invest in a novel training program to increase providers’ and nurses’ knowledge of and skills related to women’s health. VA’s Women’s Health Services (WHS) and Office of Rural Health (ORH) collaborated to design and deliver a mini-residency program to rural medical care teams nationwide. This program—the Women’s Health Mini-Residency for Primary Care Rural Providers and Nurses—is a multi-year training initiative that launched nationally in June 2018 to staff at rural VA clinical sites and continues to grow at a swift pace.
Modeled after an existing WHS core three-day training program offered up to twice a year in central Florida, this novel program attends to unique training considerations for rural primary care teams. For example, with fewer staff, rural clinics face challenges sending teams off-site for training. Off-site trainings may disrupt normal clinic operations and impact Veterans seeking care at those facilities. To meet the training needs of rural staff and minimize the impact on patients and clinic functions, WHS is bringing a blended learning training program directly to rural clinic sites.
With this blended Women’s Health Mini-Residency for Primary Care Rural Providers and Nurses, participating staff benefit from:
Online women’s health courses on core topics such as abnormal uterine bleeding, contraception, breast issues, and intimate partner violence done independently in advance of the one-day training delivered directly at clinic sites
A tailored one-day, on-site training for interactive components including case discussions, hands-on simulation equipment, videos of gynecologic procedures and exams, and live female models for history-taking and breast/pelvic exam instruction
Team training, allowing providers and nurses to train side-by-side in this inter-professional program, which aligns with how care is provided
In all, each provider and nurse receives more than 18 hours of accredited training. The Women’s Health Mini-Residency for Primary Care Rural Providers and Nurses has covered significant ground since it started – from Hawaii to New York and many rural VA sites in between. As of December 2019, WHS has trained 198 PCPs and 350 nurses during 62 separate training events, representing 121 unique VA clinical sites across 24 Health Care Systems (HCS).
This training program has proven effective in improving comfort, knowledge, and skills related to women’s health care for more than six months post-training. Feedback from participating providers and nurses, 95% of whom would recommend the training to their colleagues, includes positive comments such as:
"This course was a great learning opportunity. The instructors did very well. I gained confidence to screen and provide care for women Veterans."
"I want to say that this was the best interactive course I have participated with the VA in my 29 years of services at the VA."
"This learning activity helped broaden my knowledge in regards to women’s health. I was able to take new skills to better assist as a nurse caring for women Veterans."
With ongoing funding support, WHS aims to continue to provide this mini-residency for rural providers and nurses in up to 40 rural clinical sites per year to support the highest level of care for women Veterans in rural areas.
If you have questions about the Women’s Health Mini-Residency for Rural Providers and Nurses, please contact email@example.com. For more information about care for women Veterans, visit https://www.womenshealth.va.gov.
VA Showcases a National Women Veterans Art Show
Women Veterans are increasingly using VA for their health care. Across the country 15 VA Medical Centers are hosting exhibitions of women Veterans’ art. Through these art displays, VA brings greater attention to the stories of the military experiences of women Veterans and their life accomplishments.
The art exhibits are staged through a partnership with the Women Veterans Art Project (WVAP), the VA Center for Women’s Health and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Women’s Health Service.
WVAP “ambassadors” assist VA facility staff – including the Women’s Health Program Manager and Voluntary Service – in selecting and showcasing the art. A variety of art mediums are on display representing the diversity of women Veterans both in background and military experience. What unites them all is the dedication to the defense of our nation and community service.
To find out if there will be women Veteran’s art exhibits in your community, contact your local VA Medical Center’s Office of Public Affairs.
Women’s Health Mini-Residency Training Continues to Equip VA Providers and Nurses to Provide Gender-Sensitive Care
Women are the fastest growing Veteran population seeking care in VA. VA’s Women’s Health Services (WHS) provides unique clinical training opportunities to equip VA providers and nurses to better support women Veterans’ long-term health and well-being. This Women’s Health Mini-Residency training is one offering that bolsters the expertise of VA’s primary care and emergency care providers and nurses to address the full range of women Veterans’ medical needs.
Participants at the VA Women’s Health Mini-Residency training take part in lectures and discussions on the must current women’s health topics, including those addressing specific Veteran needs. Providers and nurses benefit from training about the unique needs of women including such topics as contraception, abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pain and screening for breast and cervical cancer. In addition, the unique needs and exposures that may impact women Veterans such as burdens of deployment, physical demands of heavy gear, combat exposure, potential for military sexual trauma, and post-deployment readjustment that can impact women differently than men, are discussed. Those who attend this training become attuned to these issues, so they can identify and treat those conditions in women Veterans for optimal health and wellness. Providers and nurses who take part of this training also bolster their skills through the interactive portions of training which include facilitated case discussions, medical mannequins for hands-on activities, videos of gynecologic procedures, and demonstration of various gynecologic supplies and contraceptives. Finally, they also have the opportunity to practice history-taking and breast and pelvic exam techniques on a live female model (gynecologic teaching associate).
Women Veterans who get their primary care from a Women’s Health Primary Care Provider (WH-PCP) – a designation participants can obtain after completing this training - are more satisfied with their primary care clinic and have a better overall experience with their care and higher quality of gender-specific care than those assigned to other providers.
Since 2008, VA has trained over 6,000 providers and nurses through this training program at the national and local levels. Additionally, since 2017 WHS has partnered with VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH) to offer a mobile version of the Women’s Health Mini-Residency that travels to rural VA clinics to train their providers and nurses, thereby supporting the highest level of care for women Veterans in rural areas.
If you have questions about the Women’s Health Mini-Residency, please contact VHACOWomen'sHealthEducationTeam@va.gov.
Provider and Nurse Training on Women’s Health Is on the Move
The number of women Veterans is increasing rapidly. As such, the number of women Veterans receiving health care from VA tripled between 2000 and 2016, growing from 160,000 to 475,000, increasing the need for gender-specific health care. As of May 2017, 26 percent of enrolled women Veterans lived in rural areas. Increasing the need of more primary care providers designated as Women’s Health Primary Care Providers (WH-PCPs) and nursing staff trained in women’s health in these rural areas.
To better support women Veterans’ long-term health and well-being, including those in rural communities. VA launched a new training program to increase providers’ and nurses’ knowledge of women’s health topics. VA’s Women’s Health Services (WHS) and Office of Rural Health (ORH) collaborated to design and deliver a mini-residency program to rural medical care teams nationwide. This program—the Women’s Health Mini-Residency for Primary Care Rural Providers and Nurses—is a multi-year training initiative that launched nationally June 2018 to staff at rural VA clinical sites.
WHS understands that rural VA clinics, with fewer staff, may face challenges sending staff off-site for training that not only may disrupt normal clinic operations, but also impacts Veterans seeking care at those facilities. To address the training need and minimize the impact on patients and clinic staff, WHS is implementing a blended learning approach that specifically meets the needs of providers and nurses at rural Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) and VA medical centers (VAMC). This training includes:
- Core women’s health courses on topics such as abnormal uterine bleeding, contraception, breast issues and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) offered via the Veteran Affairs’ Talent Management System (TMS) and done independently in advance of the one-day training delivered directly at clinic sites.
- Tailored one-day, on-site training includes interactive portions of the program such as facilitated case discussions, simulation equipment for hands-on activities, videos of gynecologic procedures and exams, and live models for breast and pelvic exam instruction.
- Patient-Aligned Care Team (PACT) providers and nurses train side-by-side in this inter-professional training program, which aligns with how care is provided
In all, each provider and nurse will receive more than 18 hours of accredited training. Beginning in FY 2018, in partnership with ORH, WHS will provide this mini-residency for rural providers and nurses in up to 40 rural clinical sites per year to support the highest level of care for women Veterans in rural are
If you have questions about the Women’s Health Mini-Residency for Rural Providers and Nurses, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reimbursement of Qualifying Adoption Expenses for Certain Veterans
In the rule published Monday March 5, 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs amends its regulation to provide reimbursement of qualifying adoption expenses incurred by Veterans with a service-connected disability that results in infertility. Covered veterans may request reimbursement for qualifying adoption expenses incurred for adoption finalized after September 29, 2016. More information can be found on the Federal Register.Dowbload the VA Form 10152, Reimbursement Request for Qualifying Adoption Expenses (requires Adobe Reader 8 or higher)
The form is also accessible by downloading as PDF VA Form 10152