By Kassmin Williams, Public Affairs Intern
The number of women Veterans attending VHA for healthcare has doubled between 2000 and 2010. To complement this increase, The Women’s Veteran Program (WVP) at VA Boston Healthcare System seeks to ensure that the women Veteran population receives the optimal amount of physical and mental care possible.
The WVP aims to enhance the Women’s Health Program by providing Primary Care and gender specific care to women. WVP also seeks to strengthen Mental Health Services for women including:
- The Women’s Stress Disorder Treatment Team
- The Women’s Integrated Treatment and Recovery Program (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse residential treatment program)
- The Women’s Acute Psychiatry Unit in Brockton
- The Women’s Homelessness Program (one of two in the nation)
- The TRUST house
Research also plays a significant role in women Veterans’ care. VA BHS’s Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD in Jamaica Plain has a variety of research efforts underway including studies related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the effects of combat on women, physical and psychological health, and interpersonal violence including Military Sexual Trauma. VA BHS is currently researching and conducting studies on pain syndromes and HIV testing initiatives.
In addition to the initiatives inside of VA BHS, the WVP actively engages in outreach in the community and has partnered with community providers to offer a wide range of services, and connect newly returning women Veterans to VA care. VA BHS has joined the Massachusetts Women Veterans Network to ensure that women Veterans have access to all resources put in place for them.
The Women Veterans Network sponsors a free one-day conference for women Veterans taking place on June 16, 2012. It will include forum panels on community connections, PTSD, wellness, parenting, MST, women’s health, benefits and relationships. The event provides free lunch and parking, raffles, gift bags and free massages/acupuncture.
To register for this event, visit the Massachusetts Conference for Women Veterans registration page.
WVN also sponsors an annual Women Veterans’ Appreciation Day Event at the State House during the week of Veteran’s Day which includes a presentation of the Deborah Sampson Award.
In line with these women Veteran appreciation events, VA BHS sponsors an Annual Women Veterans Appreciation Ski Event at Mount Sunapee.This is a fun-filled event creating a bond between our women Veterans.
WVP continually reviews the needs of women Veterans and searches for ways to meet those needs. If you have a particular service that you would like to see offered at VA BHS, please contact your Women’s Health Provider or Carolyn Mason Wholley, Women’s Veteran Program Manager, (857)-364-5994.