Women Veterans Health Care
Building a Culture of Respect
Women have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, and yet, all too often that service has gone unrecognized. They served in combat, disguised as men during the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars. They served on the front lines during the World Wars.
Hospitalization and medical care for women who served as Army or Navy nurses during World War I was first authorized on March 3, 1919. The National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the predecessor to Veterans Health Administration, approved the first hospital spaces for women Veterans on September 14, 1923. We have come a long way since then.
Today, women serve in key roles in logistics, munitions, intelligence, combat, and other military occupational specialties. Women contribute to the most professional, educated, agile, and strongest military the U.S. has ever seen.
Despite their longstanding service, many women Veterans struggle to feel recognized, respected, and valued as Veterans in civilian life. After all that they have done and continue to do, women Veterans deserve the support and respect that they have earned through their service.
We understand that women Veterans face specific challenges, have unique health care needs, and may struggle to feel respected. Legislation, such as the Women Veterans Health Programs Act of 1992 and Deborah Sampson Act of 2020, enabled us to expand gender-specific services and develop initiatives to make eligible women Veterans aware of their well-deserved benefits. We also continue to support our facilities across the country in fostering a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere for the women Veterans who come through our doors.
Below find examples and more information on VA's efforts in this direction, organized by theme, and check out the Center for Women Veterans for additional programs and resources for women Veterans.
You are a Veteran, and you have earned and deserve respect. We are working together to make VA a place where you feel like you belong. More information.
VA Honors, Recognizes, and Respects the Contributions of Women Veterans
Cultural campaigns on specific topics are developed quarterly and shared with internal and external stakeholders. Below see a list of topics we've created materials and resources for, and search for each topic in our Materials and Resources pages. These topics highlight women Veterans' contributions and accomplishments as well as advocate for recognizing and respecting women Veterans.
- She Wore These
- I'm One
- Proud Veteran
- Serving Together
- Thank a Woman Veteran
- Women Veterans Make History
- She Deserves Our Respect
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
VA Works to Understand Women Veteran's Needs and Concerns
Women often have different health care needs than men across their lifespan, from preventative health to maternity care and reproductive health and beyond. We have created new resources and services for women to meet these unique gender-specific needs. For a full overview check out our Overview of Health Services page and find additional resources and health care services for women below:
- Women Veteran Call Center
- She Wears the Boots Podcast
- Maternity Care
- Breast Feeding
- Cervical Cancer/Gynecological Cancer
- Breast Health/Mammography
- Pre-conception Health
- Pregnancy and Mental Health
- Prosthetics For Women Veterans
VA Works Toward a Culture of Civility, including Ending Harassment
Women are the fastest growing Veteran group. However, some report feeling unwelcome or uncomfortable at VA sites. We are working to raise awareness about harassment and to encourage civility without gender bias. After a 2015 survey* found that one out of four women Veterans reported harassment while on VA grounds, we got to work to raise awareness of harassment and reporting mechanisms through social media as well as posters and flyers in VA medical centers and waiting rooms. You can find these posters and graphics in our Materials and Resources pages.
Following these efforts, a 2018 survey* found women Veterans are now more aware of VA's anti-harassment efforts and reporting mechanisms, and the rate of women Veterans experiencing harassment is decreasing. To continue this positive momentum, we continue to launch new anti-harassment campaigns, and we are reinforcing our zero-tolerance policy on harassment at our facilities across the nation. VHA-wide initiatives and resources include:
- Ending Gender-based Harassment at VA facilities
- Stand Up to Stop Harassment Now! Call to Action
- White Ribbon VA — Take the Pledge
- Bystander Intervention Training
If you see or experience harassment on VA grounds, please do one or more of the following:
- Visit this site on how to find care and support
- Report it to the VA Police
- Report it to your Patient Advocate
- Report it to your Women's Veterans Program Manager
- Report it to the Women's Veterans Call Center by calling or texting 855-829-6636
- Inquire about opportunities for providing feedback such as focus groups or public forums
- Provide feedback on your experience through patient feedback surveys and questionnaires
The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health
If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:
- Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
- Setting up a medical appointment in your area
- Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans
WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.
* By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
† VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked website.