VA Connecticut Healthcare System
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Women are the fastest growing segment within the veteran population. As these women turn to the Department of Veterans Affairs for health care services, VA continues to model care to address the unique needs, experiences and medical conditions of this population.
In 1988, the Department of Veterans Affairs established the VA Women Veterans Health Program. Its mission is to address the health care needs of women veterans and work to ensure that timely, equitable, high-quality, comprehensive health care services are provided in a sensitive and safe environment at VA health facilities nationwide. By striving to be a national leader in the provision of health care for women, the standard of care is raised for all women.
VA Connecticut recognizes the need for gender specific health care and strives to give our women veterans the very best. There are currently 2,500 women receiving primary care at VA Connecticut. The West Haven and Newington campuses, as well as all six community based outpatient clinics, have designated women’s health providers who have gone through extensive training to care specifically for female veterans.
The West Haven campus is also home to our Women’s Health Center. Located in a private, comfortable setting and serving about 900 women veterans, the clinic opened in 1996. It offers primary care, gynecology services, patient education, preventive health screenings (for breast cancer, cervical cancer and osteoporosis), as well as screening, counseling and treatment for sexual trauma, substance abuse, PTSD and domestic violence.
To provide women veterans with the most effective and high quality care, members of the Women Veterans Health Program work with other VA Connecticut services and specialties, including mental health, the emergency department and the homeless veteran program, to embed their knowledge and training, ensuring seamless health care for women across all areas of the VA.
Military women tend to have a higher history rate of child abuse and trauma than their civilian counterparts. Female veterans may have also experienced sexual trauma while in the service. VA Connecticut providers are trained to screen for sexual trauma and domestic violence at first contact with female veterans.
A fairly new initiative of the Women Veterans Health Program is maternity care. Forty percent of women enrolled at VA Connecticut are of childbearing age. If eligible, VA covers prenatal care, delivery, and postnatal care, typically through outside providers.
Each VA hospital has a Women Veterans Health Program along with a designated coordinator. The program goal is to change the culture of the VA by making it more welcoming and accepting of women veterans and ensuring their privacy and safety. To achieve this, the VA has been promoting a nationwide campaign supporting culture change and making women veterans feel more welcome. Local outreach is also important, which is why Women’s Health Center staff frequently participate in community job fairs, health fairs and events hosted on college campuses.
For more information on the Women Veterans Health Program, including health care services; eligibility and enrollment; and stories from real women Veterans, visit www.womenshealth.va.gov. To contact the Women’s Health Center at VA Connecticut, call Lynette Adams, Ph.D. at 203-932-5711 ext. 5400