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Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Women Veterans get specialized care at VA
By JW Huckfeldt, Public Affairs Specialist, TCF Intern
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center introduced the Women's Health Program in 2007, and it's a good thing, too--the number of female Veterans has doubled in the last decade to 2.2 million nationwide.
The Women's Health Program at Charleston VAMC has grown over the last nine years with almost 9,000 women Veterans now enrolled. That's a significant number when you consider Charleston VAMC treated 63,000 Veterans in 2015--14 percent of the medical center's Veteran population. The program offers these Veterans a wealth of gender-specific health care including gynecology services, mammograms, breast and cervical cancer screening, maternity care and menopause symptom management, just to name a few. In fact, the program is a leader in gynecologic robotic surgery.
"I enjoy overseeing a program that continues to evolve as more women utilize the VA for their health care," Women Veterans Program Manager Pat Hancox said. "I work alongside many dedicated staff, both at the Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center and the outpatient clinics, who constantly go above the call of duty to ensure female Veterans are treated with dignity and respect."
Hancox, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), helps women Veterans navigate the enrollment process, coordinate health care and understand the benefits they have earned.
The Women's Health Program goes beyond helping women Veterans with gender-specific health care. Other services offered help treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), family and parenting issues, smoking cessation, and nutrition and weight management. A comprehensive list of Women's Health services can be found on the Charleston VAMC Women Veterans webpage.
VA also provides free military sexual trauma (MST)-related care to Veterans who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment while on active duty. Veterans do not need a VA disability rating or service-connection, and may be able to receive this care even if they are not eligible for other VA care. Charleston VAMC's Military Sexual Trauma Coordinator Carol Denier is available to Veterans and other individuals who may have questions about receiving treatment for MST. She can be reached by calling 843-789-7721.
"As we grow the program and more female veterans enroll, I would like to see us expand our services to include more family and female waiting areas, child care during appointments, enhancing women's mental health groups and improving our gynecology waiting area and exam rooms," Hancox said. "I have the pleasure of advocating for women Veterans to ensure they receive timely and high-quality health care services provided in a sensitive and safe environment."