Why Women's Health Transition Training? - Center for Women Veterans (CWV)
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Center for Women Veterans (CWV)

 

Why Women's Health Transition Training?

Group of female Veterans talking

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Background

Research shows there is an under-enrollment of female Veterans, as compared to their male counterparts, in VA health care due to a lack of awareness regarding women’s health care services available from VA. These women, who may have more immediate or pressing health care needs than male Veterans of the same age, likely do not understand they can easily obtain woman-specific services through VA at no or very low cost. Additionally, many women experience delayed care because they do not self-identify as Veterans and do not think they are eligible for VA care, further leading to under-enrollment in the VA health care system.

In 2017, the VA-DoD Health Executive Committee (HEC) Women’s Health Workgroup convened over 50 women’s health leaders from DoD, VA, the military services, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Services (USUHS) to discuss the challenges for servicewomen transitioning to civilian life. Break-out groups during this meeting brainstormed ideas that could be further developed into an effective program to address and mitigate these challenges. In a near-unanimous decision, meeting attendees decided that a new one-day workshop for transitioning servicewomen only, focusing on health care resources available for women Veterans at the VA, would be the most beneficial solution. This workshop would be complementary to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) ensuring new woman Veterans take full advantage of VA health care services available to them,—including mental health services, reproductive health services, and maternity care benefits.

WHTT Pilot

In 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Women’s Health Services partnered with the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team to develop and implement the VA Women’s Health Transition Training (WHTT) Pilot. Prior to the pilot, feedback indicated that woman Veterans were unaware of the women’s health services available from the VA. In July 2018, VA piloted the WHTT at five Air Force bases across the country, including Scott AFB, Hill AFB, Joint Base Andrews, MacDill AFB, and the Pentagon. The leading motivation behind these trainings was addressing the negative trends in health outcomes for the woman Veteran population.

Starting in June 2019, transitioning servicewomen from the Army, Navy and Marines participated in the pilot program. By December 2019, 669 servicewomen from all military services had participated in either one of the 74 in-person sessions or one of the 10 virtual sessions.

  • 238 percent increase in awareness of women’s health services available at VA
  • 81 percent increase in awareness of suicide prevention services available at VA
  • 102 percent increase in awareness of homelessness services available at VA
  • 82 percent increase in how to navigate the VA health care system
  • 89 percent increase in preparedness and awareness of how to start the VA enrollment process.

Furthermore, the participants who have since separated from the military enrolled in VA at a rate 114% higher than the average enrollment rate for Woman Veterans from the previous year with an associated decrease of 67% in median time to enrollment over the baseline.

The WHTT pilot caught the attention of Congress, the media, and Veteran Service and Advocacy organizations. Thus, the VA/DoD Joint Executive Committee voted to make this program a permanent offering by the VA. This Committee further requested that the Office of Women’s Health Services work with DoD partners and the Veterans Benefits Administration Office of Transition and Economic Development to develop a national plan that offers training to women transitioning out of military service. The FY 20 VA forecast aggressively projects 100 in-person training sessions and 18 virtual sessions—making WHTT available to all transitioning servicewomen stateside and abroad.

Why VA Health Care?

The VA healthcare system provides services such as infertility treatment, contraceptive services, nutrition, and military sexual trauma related care among other woman-specific services. WHTT seeks to educate women, specifically retired servicewomen, on the emergence of these programs. Compared to their male counterparts, woman Veterans are at risk of suicide post-military service—due to unique and gender-related health challenges. To combat this, VA has integrated mental health services within primary care, prioritizing mental health needs, such as depression and PTSD, to help prevent potential disease sequelae (e.g. substance abuse and suicide). VA health care promotes health screenings and assessment processes throughout the health care system to identify patients at risk for cancer, depression, and suicide. Patients who have been identified as being at high risk receive an enhanced level of care, including missed appointment follow up, safety planning, and individualized care plans. Look at what VA health care has to offer:

Primary Care: Preventive Care and Wellness

  • General Medical Care for Acute and Chronic Illness
  • Basic Reproductive health care, including contraception
  • Preventive Care/Cancer Screenings and Immunizations
  • Cardiovascular Risk Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment
  • Musculoskeletal Injury Evaluation and Treatment
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Nutrition
  • MOVE! Weight Management Program
  • Pain Manaement
  • Whole Health/Complementary and Integrative Therapies
  • Social Support
  • Military Sexual Trauma and Intimate Partner Violence Screening
  • Post-Deployment Evaluation and Screening

General Medical and Specialty Care

  • Medical Subspecialties
    • Cardiology
    • Endocrinology
    • Gastroenterology
    • Others
  • Surgical Subspecialties
    • General Surgery
    • Gynecology
    • Urology
    • Orthopedics
    • Others
  • Other Services
    • Optometry Audiology/Hearing Loss
    • Podiatry
    • Dental
    • Prosthetics, including gender specific items
    • Physical Therapy
    • Others

Mental Health/Substance Use Disorder Treatment

  • Mental Health Services
    • Screening and Treatment for Depressions, PTSD, and other Mental Health Conditions
    • In-patient and Outpatient Treatments available (Women’Groups Available)
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Military Sexual Trauma Related Care
  • Outpatient and Residential Substance Use Disorder Programs
  • Gender Specific Treatment Groups at some sites
  • Women’s Residential Programs
  • TBI Screening and Treatment
  • Depression Screening and Treatment

Reproductive Health

  • Contraception
  • Pre-conception planning
  • Infertility
  • Incontinence Treatment/Support
  • Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy (at some locations)
  • Menopause Management
  • Gynecology Services
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding

Maternity and Family Care

  • Maternity Care
  • Nursing Bras, Breast Pumps, and Maternity Belts
  • Newborn Care (Up to 7 days)

For additional information or to sign up for a training, please visit the Registration page.

Disclaimer

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