WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Veterans Affairs Department has launched a new hotline — 1-855-VA-WOMEN — to receive and respond to questions from veterans, their families and caregivers about the many VA services and resources available to women veterans.
The service began accepting calls March 27.
“Some women veterans may not know about high-quality VA care and services available to them,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “The hotline will allow us to field their questions and provide critical information about the latest enhancements in VA services.”
The hotline is staffed by VA employees who can provide information about benefits, including health care services for women, officials said. Callers can be linked to information on claims, education or health care appointments, as well as information about VA cemeteries and memorial benefits. Staff members can answer urgent questions and provide referrals to mental health and homeless services and Vet Center information.
Women make up nearly 15 percent of today’s active duty military and 18 percent of National Guard and Reserve forces. The number of women using VA health care was nearly 160,000 in 2000, and that number more than doubled to 354,000 in 2012. Based on the upward trend of women in all branches of military service, VA officials said, the number of women veterans using VA services will keep climbing.
As part of its commitment to making improvements for the growing population of women veterans, officials noted, VA established an outbound call center in 2010 to contact women veterans and encourage them to enroll in VA health care.
“In VA health care alone, women constitute only 6 percent of VA patients, but those veterans have a high perception of the quality care they are receiving,” said Irene Trowell-Harris, director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans. “Many women who served don’t self-identify as veterans, and therefore don’t think they qualify for VA benefits. We need to correct existing misinformation and misperceptions so we can serve more women veterans with the benefits they’ve earned.”
Women veterans are entitled to apply for the same benefits as their male counterparts, which include health care and pharmacy benefits as well as education benefits, disability compensation, home loans, employment assistance and more.
The 1-855-VA-WOMEN hotline joins numerous other VA hotlines that provide critical information and assistance to veterans, such as those for veterans in crisis and in danger of becoming homeless.
Veterans also can receive information and apply for benefits online at http://www.eBenefits.va.gov and manage their health care at http://MyHealtheVet.va.gov, officials said.