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James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital - Tampa, Florida
Haley program helps women Veterans transition
By Ed Drohan
Friday, December 7, 2018James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital is teaming up with the Air Force to help women service members better understand their VA health care benefits as they leave the military.
The Women’s Health Transition Pilot Program was developed as a partnership between the VA Women’s Health Services Office and the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team. The program began implementing training sessions at Air Force Bases as part of the Air Force Transition Assistance Program (TAP) in July. Service members are encouraged to participate in TAP to help them prepare to retire or separate from the military.
Haley recently hosted their fifth session in November. Three female military members – two Army and one Air Force – received briefings at MacDill Air Force Base in the morning and spent the afternoon at the Women’s Center at Haley’s Primary Care Annex in the afternoon.
According to Tory Gentry, a contractor working with the VA on the new program, women Veterans often do not understand what women’s health services are available to help them address their health-related challenges. She added that fewer women Veterans seek services and support from VA.
The new program is designed to provide service women with a deeper understanding of health services available to them through VA, as well as the enrollment process to receive those services. MacDill is one of six Air Force bases that are piloting the program.
During the morning session, the three transitioning women were briefed on the range of health and mental health services available to them, transition support services, eligibility requirements and other aspects of today’s VA health care system. After lunch, they travelled to the Women’s Center where they were met by Pam Smith-Beatty, the JAHVH Women Veterans Program manager.
Smith-Beatty led the group on a tour of the center, showing them the exam rooms, where they can go to enroll and other aspects of both the Women’s Center and the Primary Care Annex. She explained that the clinic has a separate entrance from the PCA and no TVs in the waiting room to give women a more relaxing environment.
She also explained that women’s health in VA is all about a team working together to provide superior service to Veterans.
“Here we have primary care, gynecologists, mental health and specialty care all working together,” Smith-Beatty said. “It all about being a one-stop shop for women’s health care.”
She encouraged the transitioning Veterans to have a separation physical and to apply for disability through the compensation and pension process. She also reminded them that VA is always looking for new employees and volunteers as well.
For their part, the service members said they were impressed with the information they received during the orientation. Andrea Carroll-Tipton, an Air Force major, said checking into the VA is now part of her post-military plans.
“I’m moving back to California when I separate, but I’ll definitely be looking into the VA,” she said. “I liked everything I heard today.”