U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
On June 30th at 3PM, we will be here to answer questions around critical topics for Women Veterans. These topics include health, benefits, appeals, employment efforts, caregiver support, mental health, suicide prevention, memorial services and survivors assistance. Ask questions to:
Patty Hayes, Ph.D., Chief Officer, Women's Health Service
Maj Jaquie Hayes-Byrd, Executive Director, Center for Women Veterans
Sara Eichstaedt, Clinical Social Worker, Military National Sexual Trauma Program
LtCol Brad Lanto, Director of Partnerships for Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
SGT Shurhonda Love, Community Relations Specialist for Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
2LT (Join to see), Office of Engagement and Memorial Innovations (OEMI)
CPT Cheryl Rawls, VBA, ADUS Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement
The Honorable Cheryl Mason, Chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals
CSM Alfie (Lourdes) Alvarado Ramos, Director of Washington State Veterans Affairs
Col Dennis May, Deputy, Center for Minority Veterans
SGT Bryce Carpenter, NCA, Educational Outreach Programs Officer
Lisa Pape, Deputy Chief PCS Officer for Care Management and Social Work (caregiver support)
RDML Ann Duff, Executive Director, Office of Survivors Assistance
Nicole Clapp, National President at American Legion Auxiliary
Jennifer Strauss National Women's Mental Health Program Manager
Kathy Hedrick, PhD, Lead, Field Implementation Team, Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation

Did you know that women are the fastest growing group within the Veteran population? Learn more about the changing face of women Veterans and what VA is doing to meet their health care needs. Ask questions to the following groups:

Women Veterans Health Care-

Center for Women Veterans-
The CWV advises VA Secretary and leadership on issues impacting women Veterans to empower you, to ensure that you are aware of and have access to the benefits and services that Women Veterans deserve because we have earned them. We work hand in hand with VHA, VBA and NCA and staff offices to create the environment where women Veterans’ needs are recognized and met. We are the portal for all things women Veterans – to help create a positive Veterans experience. We integrate, advocate, and connect with open exchange of information and to serve as a resource hub to connect with local, state, and federal resources.

Women’s Mental Health, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention:
VA offers a full continuum of gender-sensitive, evidence-informed mental health services for women Veterans, including general and specialty outpatient services, residential and inpatient care. VA mental health providers have the knowledge, skills and expertise to address women Veterans’ diverse treatment needs and preferences across the course of their lives. Reproductive mental health is an area of focus, including premenstrual mood problems, depression and anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum, depression during the transition to menopause, and mental health challenges faced by women with chronic pelvic pain, breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) delivers a wide array of benefits and services to eligible Veterans, Servicemembers, their families, and survivors. Our benefits can include; providing compensation for an injury or loss sustained or aggravated while serving in the military, assisting Veterans with home purchase or educational needs, and providing access to career training, to name a few. VBA has Women Veteran Coordinators assigned to every regional office and they assist women Veterans with connecting to their benefits.

The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) is an agency within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Its mission is to conduct hearings and issue timely decisions for Veterans and other appellants in compliance with the law, 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 7101(a). The Board is responsible for making final decisions on behalf of the Secretary regarding appeals for Veterans’ benefits and services from all three administrations - Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and National Cemetery Administration (NCA)—as well as the Office of General Counsel (OGC)that are presented to the Board for appellate review. The Board’s jurisdiction extends to all questions in a matter involving a decision by the Secretary under the law that affects a provision of benefits by the Secretary to Veterans, their dependents, or their survivors. 38 U.S.C. §§ 511(a); 7104(a). Final decisions on appeals are made by the Board based on the entire record in the proceeding and all applicable provisions of law and regulation. 38 U.S.C. § 7104(a).

Center for Minority Veterans-
The Center for Minority Veterans (CMV) was established by Public Law 103-446, in 1994. CMV serves as an advocate for minority Veterans by conducting outreach activities to promote the awareness and use of VA benefits and services. The Center’s activities include:
 Promote the use of benefits authorized by this title by Veterans who are minorities and the conduct of outreach activities to Veterans who are minorities;
 Disseminate information and serve as a resource center for the exchange of information regarding innovative and successful programs which improve the services available to Veterans who are minorities
For more information, contact the CMV Staff at [login to see] or visit the CMV website:https://rly.pt/VAcmv

Unfortunately, some Veterans experience sexual assault or sexual harassment during their service, and these experiences can have a lasting impact on health, even many years later. Recovery from military sexual trauma (MST) is possible, however, and VA is here to help. VA provides free care for both mental and physical health conditions related to Veterans’ experiences of MST and Veterans may be able to receive this care, even if they are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported your experiences at the time or have any documentation they occurred, and do not need to have a VA disability rating. Visit http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/msthome.asp to learn more.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries will resume committal services starting June 9 in all but two VA national cemeteries. VA national cemeteries will contact families who were unable to hold a committal service due to the COVID-19 pandemic to arrange memorial services for their loved ones beginning in July. Veterans Legacy Memorial will allows online visitors to leave a “tribute” text at http://www.va.gov/remember

Veterans Affairs (VA) Caregiver Support Program (CSP) offers a wide array of services to family members and friends who care for Veterans, including on-line courses, face-to-face classes, telephone support, and peer support. These services are offered in addition to the support provided to families and caregivers across VA by clinicians as part of a Veteran’s care. Every VA medical center has a Caregiver Support Coordinator (CSC) who assists with information and referrals to these programs. For help, contact your local Caregiver Support Coordinator using the Caregiver Support Program CSC Locator Page or call the VA Caregiver Support Line at [login to see] (toll free 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET). You can also visit http://www.caregiver.va.gov.

Survivors Assistance-
The Office of Survivors Assistance serves as an expert resource regarding all benefits and services furnished by the VA to Survivors and Dependents of deceased Veterans and members of the Armed Forces. We can help you navigate the myriad of benefits and services available, and direct you to your best options. Additionally, we work closely with veteran service organizations, other departments, state and local veteran groups and community leaders to educate everyone about available services and benefits.

American Legion Auxiliary-
Veterans, servicemen and women, and their families are the American Legion Auxiliary’s heroes. The ALA especially focuses on women veterans to bring to light the daunting challenges and issues they face: homelessness, suicide, lack of adequate childcare, and military sexual trauma. ALA members and volunteers help by advocating for the needs of women veterans. Locally, we work to establish strong connections between women veterans in need and the services that best fill those needs, whether through federal, state, or local agencies, or by offering a strong volunteer base to provide “boots on the ground with a warm touch” through meals, childcare, clothing donations, welcome baskets designed specifically for females to include items such as female hygiene products, baby supplies, toys, and gamebooks for school-aged children. Our work is never finished. Learn more about the ALA’s century of service and its ongoing mission of serving veterans, military, and their families at https://rly.pt/alaVeterans

Whole Health-
Whole Health is VA’s cutting-edge holistic approach to care that supports your health and well-being. Whole Health is an approach to health care that empowers and equips Veterans to take charge of their health and well-being and to live their life to the fullest. Whole Health centers around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. This means your health team will get to know you as a person, before working with you to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals. The Whole Health System includes conventional treatment, but also focuses on self-empowerment, self-healing, and self-care. The Whole Health System moves VA forward from focusing on episodic care to a more continuous engagement with you through your life. The Whole Health System is the current vision for complementary and integrative health (CIH) integration in VA and includes three components:

The Pathway: Veteran peers partnering with you and your family, exploring your mission/purpose/aspirations and beginning your overarching personal health plan.
Well-being Programs: Skill building and support; proactive, integrative health approaches such as stress reduction, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, nutrition, acupuncture, health coaching
Whole Health Clinical Care: VA or community providers, or both, trained in Whole Health; focusing on relationships, complementary and integrative health approaches, and personal health planning

RallyPoint Rules and Conduct: https://rallypoint.force.com/Support/s/article/rallypoint-answers-and-discussion-conduct-2020-03-13-10-21-35
Comments have been disabled
Responses: 216
PO2 Jessica Cross
I would like to know when the VA is going to take the sexual harassment of female veterans by its staff and other veterans seriously. Going to the VA gives me panic attacks regularly because there’s a super high chance I will be harassed at a visit.

My ex-mental health care provider told me to deal with it because the men have to get used to us.

Do something.
Jennifer Strauss
Jennifer Strauss
1 mo
P02 Jessica Cross, we agree that all Veterans should feel welcome and secure coming to VA for care and are very sorry to hear of your experiences. VA is committed to ensuring a harassment-free healthcare environment and multiple campaigns are underway to uphold this commitment. Because you mentioned your experience of panic attacks, I want to specifically note that effective treatments for panic attacks are available. VA offers a full continuum of mental health services. If you are not comfortable receiving care in a mixed-gender environment, alternative options are available. Many VAs can provide care in a women-only setting. Individual treatment, telehealth and receiving care at a Vet Center are additional options. Your VA providers and care team will work with you to find a treatment approach that helps you to feel welcome, valued for your service, and comfortable receiving the care that you need and deserve.
PO2 Jessica Cross
PO2 Jessica Cross
1 mo
Patty Hayes, Ph.D. Respectfully, this doesn’t answer my comment at all.

We want to be treated with the same respect as the men, yet it’s the same response every time.

“Give us a chance”?

I’ve given y’all chances since 2008. Nothing. Has. Changed.
PO2 Jessica Cross
PO2 Jessica Cross
1 mo
Jennifer Strauss I asked my Mental health provider for a female only waiting room.

She told me she was opposed to it because them men needed to get used to the women.

How many men will be allowed to assault me in the waiting rooms before you actually do something other than gaslight us?

The panic attacks are being caused by the facility and their refusal to deal with the predators in the waiting rooms. Instead of overmedicating me and numbing me to assault, maybe the anti-female culture in VA needs addressing.
PO2 Jessica Cross
PO2 Jessica Cross
1 mo
Jennifer Strauss
Here’s the thing, the VA claims it wants us to be and feel safe. But we are not. Many women other than me have posted similar requests. The staff protects the male veterans and staff at all costs. No complaint is taken seriously. I should not have to carry drumsticks, a panic button, and a rape whistle just to go to the Dr.

If the VA actually wanted women to feel safe, they would make an effort. However, I have not seen anything other than empty words.

The truth of the matter is, the VA needs to do much better.
SPC Diana D.
I currently have an open appeal at the VA. My claim is a 38 U.S.C.S. §1151. It has been a disaster trying to file the paperwork on the claim/appeal. All of the paperwork that you must fill out and file is exactly the same as a service connected disability which makes for many misunderstandings on a claim/appeal. The service organizations also need training on how to deal with 1151 claims because they have no idea what has to happen for those kind of appeals. Could the VA come up with paperwork that would be specific for an 1151 claim?

I would also like to know why the VA will let a nurse practioner be your Primary Care Physician but will not use her letter as evidence in a claim/appeal. My PCP wrote a letter on my behalf stating her medical opinion but since she wasn't an MD and the VA did not ask for her opinion, they would not accept her letter.

Thank you!
CPO Jacquelyn Ricker USN-Retired
CPO Jacquelyn Ricker USN-Retired
1 mo
Sgt Rhonda Alexander - The last thing you wnat to do is Appeal! That puts you in this 5-10 year circle of nothingness that goes to Washington DC. Take youu papers to another Service Officer and have them look at your papers. I may be something as simple as the wording is wrong on what you asked to be found disabled. CFR 38, VA Forms. gov. You must be specific and have your evidence dates, Doctor, diagnosis Underlined on a copy of your records you are using as evidence. NEVER SEND ORIGIONALS! A good Service Officer will know how to word the request. RE-DO your papers and change how you are wording the disability request. The CFR 38 and the DBQ's will say exactly how things should be worded. YES, YOU HAVE TO DO THE LEG WORK AND YOUR HOMEWORK, ONLY YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WENT THROUGH AND YOU HAVE TO TIE IT TOGETHER WITH THE CFR 38 REGULATIONS AND DBQ'S-from your doctors are supposed to fill out, only now VA Doctors have been told not to fill them out for Veterans-VA Forms.gov. Hope this helps!! IT is an Elephant- Eat it One Bite at a time!! Once you have put in a claim you have one year to complete sending info, but only send one set of info, because if you peace meal the info it delays your claim, the Rater starts over every time you send info. You will get letters from VA asking if you have any more info to send them. If you have sent a complete package, you will not need to send extra info. Your claim will be processed sooner. If you have been denied you have 45 days to rebut the info giving new information, it has to be new, can't just resend what you sent in the first time. This is why you need to be sure of your wording and evidence you send in the first time.
TSgt Lee Parham
TSgt Lee Parham
1 mo
SPC Constance Richards - They are notorius for not responding at all. I go to the Southwest VA Clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am a Disabled Vet, I have been in the medical field for more than 20+ years and the quality of care is below average. I know what and how it is to work in that environment, I get treated like I don't know anything and the patients shouldn't have a say so in their care. I have a doctor who I am assigned to that had been doing labs on me without telling me he was going to do so. No communication and it's below the standards that I am used to when I was an active service member. It just seems that they are going through the motions, no respect from the staff. I've completely stopped going to the PCP I was assigned to. I have no respect for these individuals. I'd say 90% of them have no prior military experience.
Sgt Rhonda Alexander
Sgt Rhonda Alexander
1 mo
CPO Jacquelyn Ricker USN-Retired Thank you! I am going to handle this as you suggest.
The Honorable Cheryl Mason
The Honorable Cheryl Mason
1 mo
1151 cases can be complex. They require medical opinions. They result in award of service-connected benefits. The Board of Veterans' Appeals collaborates with the VSOs and provides training as requested.
SSG Heather LeeAnn
Thank you for hosting this. I have two questions. 1) When will more research be conducted on the effects of the burn pits and air quality on female reproductive issues? 2) Why hasn’t the VA broaden the requirements. range of autoimmune disorders linked to service. Take for instance Myasthenia Gravis which I have. I have had it since returning from my second deployment. However, mine did not develop as a “normal case of myasthenia gravis”. Myasthenia gravis falls in the same category as ALS and MS. ALS has an unlimited time frame and MS has 7 years per the CFR. While mg has 1 year. This makes no sense. There are over lapping symptoms between the three.

Thank you! From the veteran with 3 rare medical issues.
CPO Jacquelyn Ricker USN-Retired
CPO Jacquelyn Ricker USN-Retired
1 mo
The VA will not make changes it has to come from Congress and the Senate because they appropriate the money for these diseases. Unless you can find a way to change their minds, they will not add time or diseases because it causes money, for which they are greedy jerks. They know most people do not even know they are sick until well after the year they give you in the CFR 38 to file a claim. Remember it is all about the Gov saving money for their personal retirement system, which is better than Military Retirement for which we put out lives on the line, and they haven't, very few are prior military. Get people together and contact your Congresspeople and Senators.
SP5 Terisa Tribble
SP5 Terisa Tribble
1 mo
Did you know the VA is currently seeking out Veterans who have experienced/been subjected to burn pits. I do not have the information but the VA did send out an email requesting soldiers to sign up.
Patty Hayes, Ph.D.
Patty Hayes, Ph.D.
1 mo
There is ongoing research to evaluate the reproductive effects of military service. Women’s Health Services Office does not conduct research. Determinations about the connection between military exposures and medical conditions are not made by the Women’s Health Services Office. You can get more information about the effects of military exposures on health at https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/benefits/index.asp
SSG Heather LeeAnn
SSG Heather LeeAnn
1 mo
Patty Hayes, Ph.D. - First, let me start off my by saying thank you for acknowledging my questions. However, due to the complex nature of my medical conditions I have yet to find a VSO or Claims agent that can help. So with that being said I do 99.9% of the work and research for my claims. So if i come off sounding hash in my response I apologize as I am very passionate about these topics. My medical care is followed by the WRIISC. So with that being said.... Thank you for directing me to the same site that I check weekly for updated research. I am not trying to sound harsh or come off disrespectful. I am very well aware of current research efforts. For either of these questions is there someone on the panel who can answer them? Or is there someone that the panel can direct me to?

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