This week, the acting Deputy Secretary Pamela Powers led U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) first virtual Women Veterans Forum, which helped women Veterans from across the country learn more about the care and services the VA offers, and how the organization is developing to better serve the growing population of women Veterans.
All military veterans are eligible for a broad range of benefits and services provided by the VA and some of these benefits may be utilized while on active duty. Benefits include:
- GI Bill and other education benefits
- Loan benefits
- Life Insurance
- Disability benefits
- Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)
- Veteran-owned small business support
- PTSD support and other eBenefits
To the 1,500+ women veterans joining the WebEx event, Powers said, “You have a voice at the VA, and we’ve learned a lot over the last few years about how to better serve you.”
Progress Serving Female Veterans
60% of the VA’s employees are women, and these employees and the growing number of women leaders at the VA are working to change the culture, hoping to make sure women feel comfortable and equipped to have a seat at the table. “We have women across this department helping to shape this department every day,” Powers said.
The VA has made progress increasing the range of services available to women, including mental health care that is tailored specifically to this population. These changes have built the trust women Veterans have in the VA.
Despite the progress thus far, Powers said the VA is diligently working to ensure women Veterans are served even better across the entire VA, and she encouraged women to enroll in the benefits they deserve for serving in the US military.
VA Seeks to Better Represent Females
According to the VA, the current projected percentage of US Veterans who are women is 10% and many of them have different health risk factors. The Women Veterans Forum allowed several women leaders at VA to explain the work they’re doing to ensure all VA facilities are inclusive, including discussions led by the Chief Veterans Experience Officer Dr. Lynda Davis, the Center for Women Veterans Executive Director Jacqueline Hayes-Byrd and Deputy Director Elizabeth Estabrooks, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits Margarita Devlin, and Chief Officer for Women’s Health Dr. Patricia Hayes.
Campaigns to check out
- “I Am Not Invisible” campaign, which is aimed at increasing awareness and dialogue about women Veterans.
- The VA extending the process for applying for compensation, pension, education, insurance, housing benefits because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The growing range of care options for women Veterans, including primary care, fertility and maternity care and gynecology.
- VA medical centers and their dedicated Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program coordinators.