New chat function implemented in women’s vet call center


By Thomas Crisp - Contributing Columnist



Calling all women who served in the United States military! Do you know your veteran status? Do you have a veteran ID card? Should you receive any benefits from VA, like the GI Bill? Do you know what health care benefits you have earned?

If you do not know the answer to even one of these questions, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) just for you. The WVCC staff is trained to provide women veterans, their families, and caregivers about VA services and resources.

They are ready to respond to your concerns. The call is free, and you can call as often as you like until you have the answers to your questions. The Call Center is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST.

The WVCC is expanding its outreach to women veterans with a new online, one-to-one Chat Function. The new service enables women veterans to go online and anonymously chat via real-time text messaging with a trained WVCC representative.

The new feature provides women veterans with another avenue to ask general questions about benefits, eligibility and services specifically for women Veterans. WVCC chat is available by visiting the Women Veterans Health Care webpage at www.womenshealth.va.gov and clicking the “Chat with the Women Veterans Call Center” icon.

As the Chat Function is anonymous, please do not use personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers.

All the representatives at the Women Veterans Call Center are women, and many are veterans themselves. In addition to linking women veterans to information, the Women Veterans Call Center makes direct referrals to Women Veteran Program Managers (WVPM) located at every VA medical center. The Women Veteran Program Manager helps the woman Veteran coordinate services.

When you call the WVCC:

• You will be connected to a trained VA woman staff member.

• Call center staff will conduct a brief screening to assess your needs.

• Women veterans will be provided personalized information regarding health care services, VA benefits and services, and a package of information will be sent to their home.

• ou can call for yourself or for a women veteran you know.

• The call is free and confidential.

• Contact information will be requested so staff may follow-up.

Any women veteran can use the WVCC, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA health care and/or receiving care. You do not need to have wartime or combat experience to be considered a veteran.

Women veterans should enroll for health care benefits to ensure they receive the comprehensive benefits package offered through VA’s national health care system.

A review of the 33,000 calls received to date found the most common reasons people call in to the Call Center are to learn about benefits and eligibility and to discuss issues they face like homelessness, maternity care, Military Sexual Trauma, and environmental exposures.

At times, there are issues that the Call Center cannot immediately resolve. In those cases, they research the best course of action/ locate the appropriate resources, and call the veteran back to help her address her issues and concerns.

VA offers comprehensive medical care, including any necessary medical outpatient and inpatient services. The VA provides a full continuum of health care, including comprehensive primary care (care for acute and chronic illness and gender-specific care), specialty care, mental health care, disease prevention and screening, emergency care, and women’s health specialty care (e.g., advanced breast and gynecological care, maternity care, and some infertility treatments).

In addition, VA offers services such as inpatient medical/surgical/mental health care, physical rehabilitation, substance abuse treatment, long-term care, and pharmacy benefits. For more information on VA services provided to women Veterans, call 1-855-VA-WOMEN (1-855-829-6636).

If you are in crisis, call the Veterans Crisis Line. This is a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) resource that connects Veterans and Service members in crisis and their families and friends with information and qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential, toll-free hotline, online chat, and text messaging service.

Veterans and their families and friends can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net , or send a text message to 838255 to receive support from specially trained professionals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (Source: VFW Action Corps Weekly | August 19, 2016)

By Thomas Crisp

Contributing Columnist

Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veteran updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.

Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veteran updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.

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