The numbers tell it all – why the VA felt there was a need to establish a dedicated hotline for women veterans: 1-855-829-6636 (VA-WOMEN).
In the past decade, the population of women veterans has more than doubled from 160,000 to 360,000. That number is expected to double again by 2022.
Women make up 15 percent of the active duty military and 18 percent of the Guard and Reserves.
Yet, women veterans are less likely to use VA health care. Currently, women make up only 6 percent of the VA total patient population.
A VA survey found the main reason for the lack of use by women vets was their lack of knowledge about their VA benefits and services.
So the VA has established a hotline where women veterans, their families and caregivers can get answers about available resources and services.
“All our telephone agents have received training regarding services that the VA provides for women Veterans,” Krista Stephenson, an Army Veteran and current Women Veterans Call Center Director, stated in a press release. “They are informed about eligibility, benefits, health care and other services, and can route calls within VA when needed”
The single number also handles calls regarding crisis situations like sexual trauma, homelessness, domestic violence and suicidal behavior.
“We also have established agreements for warm handoffs to VA programs such as the Veterans Crisis Line and the Caregiver Support Line,” Stephenson stated. “We are also working collaboratively with other VA Departments for those Veterans who have questions regarding VA benefits and health eligibility.”
The Call Center also follow-ups within 30 days on any calls transferred to the VA to ensure that women Veterans received the services they needed.