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Service women: Plan for your future health care now

Graphic that has images of different women with the words "women's health transition training" The online, self-paced Women’s Health Transition Training provides important information for transitioning servicewomen on women’s health care services available from VA post-separation from the military (Photo by: graphic courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs).

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Service women, have you thought about how you'll get your health care after you separate from the military?

Do you know how to apply for Department of Veterans Affairs health care services?

Or how the VA determines veterans' eligibility?

During National Women’s Health Week which runs until the 15th there's no better time to plan ahead for your health and wellness, especially if you anticipate transitioning out of active duty in the coming year.

If you've never navigated health care as a civilian – or if it's been a while – the VA's on-demand Women's Health Transition Training is a great place to start. Through this self-paced, 2.5-hour course, you can learn about VA women's health services anytime, anyplace.

The VA provides eligible veterans with access to high-quality women's health services. This means primary care like general services, birth control, preconception counseling, menopausal support, and mental health services. It also includes specialty services like maternity care and other reproductive health services, as well as screening and management of chronic (long-lasting) conditions, like heart disease and diabetes. VA also has free, confidential (private) counseling and treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to military sexual trauma.

A study of women veterans' barriers to care found that non-VA-users had "substantial knowledge deficits and misperceptions" regarding VA services and eligibility when compared with women using VA services. Research shows that women veterans wait an average of more than two and a half years post-separation – or until they have health issues – to connect with the VA. Enrolling in the VA health care earlier provides opportunities for routine screenings and preventive care that may detect problems.

In 2018, the VA and DOD teamed up to launch the Women's Health Transition Training pilot. What started with five Air Force bases and the Pentagon expanded in 2019 to include transitioning service women from the Army, Marines and Navy. The training has since been provided in person and virtually to hundreds of service women across all branches of service, and VA continuously refines the course based on feedback from participants.

One in-person training pilot participant noted, "We had service women with ranks ranging from senior airman to major in the room, and all of us were, up to this point, clueless about VA benefits for service women...so hopefully this acts as a testament for why this training program is necessary."

To maximize the course's availability, the VA launched an on-demand version at tapevents.org/courses. You can take the course on your own time, pausing and resuming as needed. The course guides you through five phases: navigating the shift from active duty, understanding how the VA is structured, available women's health services, enrolling in the VA health care, and transition assistance resources.

"What's really wonderful about this course being available on demand is that now a woman at any point in her transition journey – active duty, recently separated, or 15 years post-separation – can learn about VA's primary and gender-specific health care services," said Cheryl Rawls, executive director for VA Outreach, Transition and Economic Development. "We're hopeful that this training will empower service women and women Veterans to make informed decisions about their health care and take advantage of the VA benefits they've earned and deserve."

Ready to learn more and start planning for your future? Take some time this National Women's Health Week to discover the health care options the VA has to offer you. Visit to get more information about the Women's Health Transition Training's website and access their on-demand course.

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