VA, Army, Navy and Marines will pilot women-specific transition program

Kaylah Jackson
May 03, 2019 - 12:29 pm
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue)

Women service members could soon benefit from a personalized transition program thanks to the Department of Veteran Affairs and the service branches.

Dr. Patricia Hayes, chief consultant for women’s health services at the Veterans Health Administration, announced at a House Veteran’s Affairs hearing that VA will begin a pilot women’s health transition program with the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

“We knew for a long time that women veterans have been telling us that they didn’t know about their benefits … and the year after the transition, that whole transition year, is at a higher risk for suicide, and so we worked with the great partners at the Department of Defense to design a TAP program for women,” said Hayes.

Currently, the Transition Assistance Program also referred to as “TAP,” is a requirement for service members to complete before they separate from service. The classes offer tools to help them and their spouses prepare for their next step after the military.

This women-specific trial program Hayes announced, called the VA Women’s Health Transition Pilot Program, is already in the testing phase with the Air Force and the Navy is looking for specific locations for their pilot workshops. 

Slated as an additional course to TAP, this in-person class offers a woman’s perspective to active-duty, Reserve and Guard transitional service. The 9-month pilot course is currently offered in five locations at Air Force Bases across the United States.  

“It does walk them through their benefits at a time when women are with women so they can talk about issues like reproductive issues, gender-specific health issues,” said Hayes. “But it also gives them a lot more technical information about what is VA healthcare and how can they access it.”

The women also tour a VA hospital to gain a better understanding of how clinics and the rest of the VA operates. There is also talk about having an online version of the course for those who would prefer a digital version.

Currently, it’s a “proof of concept project” that will now be extended to the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

“We think that we're going to get a wider ability to have people come into it and have the various services be able to speak what benefit it is for them … so far people actually it’s wonderful,” said Hayes. “We’re not surprised, we think it’s a very important part of what we’re doing."

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