The South Texas Veterans Health Care System is celebrating its 20th annual Women’s Health Week, with a focus on getting women to utilize the services available to them at VA.
"It's a reminder to women to focus on their health and make their health a priority,” said Barbara Hector, Women Veterans Program Manager at Audie Murphy Memorial VA Hospital. “They tend not to put themselves first. The family is the focus. The job is the focus. And somewhere down the line is the woman's health."
According to Hector, women often struggle to navigate the VA’s enrollment processes and may miss out on certain gender-specific services.
"We have all the services. But obstetrics and gynecology are the main ones women say they didn't know about,” Hector said.
Hector said other lesser-known VA services include treatment for military sexual trauma and care for pelvic floor injuries. She encourages patients to be forthright with VA medical providers about their needs and concerns.
"It's just a matter of the patient asking,” she said. “They don't have to know what's available. It's just being open about their healthcare needs, and they'll be navigated accordingly.”
Women Veteran Program Managers are available at each VA medical center to help coordinate services for women veterans. Once a woman gets connected with the program, she is assigned a primary care provider with special training in women’s care.
A range of health care services for female veterans is available. These services include:
- 24/7 emergency health care
- Comprehensive primary health care
- OB & GYN (includes infertility evaluation with limited treatment)
- Gender-specific health care and education (includes menopause management and hormone replacement therapy)
- Preventive health screenings (includes breast and cervical cancer screenings)
- Reproductive health care (includes contraception and maternity care)
- Osteoporosis evaluation and treatment
- Polytrauma Rehabilitation
- Spinal cord injury health care
- Prosthetic services
- Mental Health Services
- Counseling and treatment for sexual trauma and assault that occurred during military service
- PTSD and substance abuse treatment and counseling
- Post deployment readjustment counseling
- Homeless Veterans Program
- Vocational Rehabilitation Program
More information about the Women Veterans Program at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System is available here.
On June 12, the Audie Murphy Memorial VA Hospital will host a tele-town hall to gather feedback about its healthcare offerings for women.
Carson Frame can be reached at Carson@TPR.org and on Twitter at @carson_frame.