A program preparing women for military transition is now being offered online through July.
VA Women’s Health Transition Training is a collaborative effort between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to educate service women on women’s health care services available after separation from the military. This course provides an in-depth discussion about:
- Female specific health care including reproductive services, maternity care, mental health services, newborn care, and gynecological care and musculoskeletal care.
- Eligibility for VA health care and how to enroll.
- Resources available for servicewomen during the military to civilian transition process.
As COVID-19 interrupted the upcoming schedule of in-person sessions, the training team transitioned to a condensed virtual format that allows attendees to engage with an instructor in real time. The two-and-a-half-hour period is divided into five phases. Dr. Nancy Maher, program manager of VA Women’s Health Transition Training, says the live classroom setting still contains core elements such as differences between the military and VA healthcare systems.
“We talk about how in the military healthcare system everything is regimented, like ‘you will come in at this date and time to have this vaccination’, etc.; whereas when you’re in the VA, it’s more like the private sector in that the onus is on you to seek out your healthcare and adjust your healthcare needs,” Maher said. “Then we do a really deep dive for healthcare services available for women at the VA: reproductive health, primary care, specialty care and getting really deep into the benefits in terms of infertility treatments, adoption, etc. and … some of the deployment health-related conditions that service women might experience more frequently than their civilian counterparts.”
Because of the comprehensive nature of the topics, there is a companion workbook with further explanation on services.
It is recommended training be completed within a year of when a service member anticipates leaving the military, but Maher said “we don’t want it to be too far out where they lose that information.”
A bonus feature of the virtual format is a women veteran’s program manager is available during the training to answer any questions and provide additional insight. These WVPMs have unique knowledge on the services and offerings to women by women, and they serve as advocates. Maher sees added benefits in the women-only class.
“(It) allows for a freer discussion and a more safer environment where people can really discuss gender-specific healthcare issues and needs,” she said.
All service women are encouraged to register and attend any virtual training. Participants are not limited to trainings in their own time zone.