As we learned in previous chapters, veterans are a diverse population, with experiences and backgrounds that intersect all demographic lines. To help overcome barriers to care for certain populations, the VA has created specialized outreach and services.
Women veterans may have mixed feelings about seeking VA care, especially if they have service-connected trauma that may be triggered by a male-dominated VA office space. Because of this, to help women veterans access VA care, each VA medical center has a Women Veterans Program Manager to advise and advocate for women veterans. They can assist women veterans with accessing medical services, from primary care, to specialized care for chronic conditions, or reproductive healthcare.
Women veterans who are interested in receiving care at the VA should:
- Contact the nearest VA Medical Center and ask for the Women Veterans Program Manager or
- Call the Women Veterans Call Center at 1-(855) VA-WOMEN/1-(855) 829-6636, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. EST, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST.
One of the most important aspects of VA care is the study of long-term effects of military service. Because the VA has provided veteran-specific care for decades, they are able to identify emerging healthcare needs of veterans as they age, such as PTSD, Agent Orange-related conditions, and other conditions that impact aging and health.
For additional information on available VA healthcare programs for aging veterans, see the links below:
- Overview Guide to Long term Care
- Geriatrics Program
- Long-Term Care
- Eligibility for Long Term Care
- Home Based and Community Services
- Nursing Home and Residential Care
- Geriatrics Research
Recommended Reading: AGENT ORANGE: THE BASICS
If you believe you were exposed to Agent Orange, you need to know how the VA decides whether you’re entitled to benefits. We explain the process.
As we discussed in previous chapters, LGBTQ+ veterans face increased health risks and unique challenges in accessing quality healthcare. LGBTQ+ veterans have the added burdens of stigmatization, marginalization, and discrimination not only within the general population but also within the military and/or veteran population.
Some may perceive the VA to be an unwelcoming place to receive healthcare and insensitive to their needs. Some LGBTQ+ veterans who were targets of harassment may feel unwelcome or unsafe at a male veteran-dominated VA healthcare facility and are consequently more likely to have delayed care or have avoided it altogether. All of these patterns are even more pronounced for transgender veterans.
Importantly, the VA has made strides to create a welcoming space for veterans and provides training on LGBTQ+ culture and considerations for care to VA providers. VA oversees a formal LGBT Point of Contact Program with an identified LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator (LGBT VCCs) at each facility and provides training and support to LGBT VCCs. Trained LGBT VCCs promote understanding of VA policies and best practices for serving LGBT veterans at their facilities.
If you have a LGBTQ+ veteran in your services and would like to help them receive care from the VA, contact the LGBT Veteran Care Coordinator at the nearest VA facility. VA LGBT healthcare includes hormone treatment, substance use/alcohol treatment, tobacco use treatment, treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections/PrEP, intimate partner violence reduction and treatment of aftereffects, heart health, cancer screening, prevention and treatment.
DD-214 CORRECTIONS FOR VETERANS DISCHARGED UNDER “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” AND PRIOR POLICIES
This guide is intended to set forth a step-by-step process to upgrading a less than fully Honorable discharge characterization, changing the narrative reason for discharge, and upgrading the reenlistment code (RE-Code) for veterans discharged under DADT and prior policies.
DD-214 NAME CORRECTIONS FOR TRANSGENDER VETERANS
Although the Department of Defense has yet to issue official guidance to veterans seeking to change their name on military separation documents, this guide seeks to provide a step-by-step process to requesting these records corrections.
SURVIVORS OF MILITARY SEXUAL TRAUMA
Veterans who have experienced MST may not wish to seek VA care for reasons directly related to the trauma they experienced. If the veteran does wish to access VA care, the VA provides veterans with free treatment for any physical or mental health conditions related to MST without needing to document the MST experience or show evidence of service connection.
Some veterans, including those with an other than honorable discharge, can receive this free MST-related care even if they are not eligible for other VA care.
Important to note: The VA defines military sexual trauma as both harassment and/or sexual assault that occurred while in the military.
There are MST coordinators at each VA medical center who can be the conduit to care at the VA. They serve as contact person for MST-related issues. You can find a directory of MST coordinators at www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/mstcoordinators.asp.