Did you know that only 44% of women veterans are enrolled in Veteran Affairs (VA) health care? This is 8% lower than male veterans. And did you know that women veterans are the fastest growing veteran population? They are projected to account for 2.2 million members of the veteran population by 2026. Aryanna Wagner is an Army veteran, mom, PhD candidate. She is also a trainer for the VA Women’s Health Reengagement Training (heaRT). She and the team are working hard to increase enrollment in VA health care. Her team believes that armed with education, enrollment VA health care will increase for women veterans.
VA Women’s heaRT is an official program of the VA’s Office of Women’s Health. VA Women’s heaRT’s goal is to connect with and educate women veterans. This training is for both women veterans who enrolled or not enrolled in VA health care. For women who are enrolled this training hopes to ensure they understand the breadth of VA health care services available to them. It doesn’t matter, whether you have been separated from the military for 10 days or 10 years. It is never too late to enroll in and use VA health care. Sign up to attend a VA Women’s heaRT session today to learn how!
From Participant to Trainer
Aryanna’s path from VA Women’s heaRT participant to trainer is unique. Aryanna learned about VA Women’s heaRT while serving in her previous role as Director of Veteran Services at the University of Pittsburgh. As an Army veteran, she quickly saw the value of the training. The fact it explained the women- and veteran- specific services offered through VA that she didn’t know about surprised her. After attending the training, she connected with the VA Women’s heaRT team over her passion to serve veterans. Within a couple months, she found herself delivering VA heaRT. The same training that resonated with her less than a year earlier.
A Training for Women Veterans by Women Veterans
VA is no longer “Your Grandfather’s VA.” As the needs of Veterans change and evolve, VA is committed to meeting those needs. The VA Women’s heaRT program is designed for women veterans, by women veterans. In order to create a customized and personalized training experience for all attendees. The training consists of a one-time four-hour training session. The training is broken into three main focus areas. Part one focus on how VA is structured. Part 2 focuses on what women- and veteran-specific health care services are available to them. And lastly, how to enroll in VA health care.
Each training session includes women veterans who use VA health care. Also, in most cases a Women Veteran Program Manager (WVPM) is available to answer questions. Ensuring women know how to seek specific health care services. The resources and women veteran support does not stop at the end of the training. All participants leave the training session with the knowledge of how to contact their local WVPM. Along with a handbook to help them enroll in and navigate VA health care.
A Safe Space and Community for Women Veterans
Aryanna is proud of the safe space the VA Women’s heaRT program has been able to create. This women-only training prioritizes establishing a space. In the training women can have personal conversations and connect over shared experiences. Participants are encouraged to share their thoughts, feelings, and stories about their time in the military. Along with their experience of seeking heath care after transitioning out of the military.
One participant shared that the training was, “so informative. It was good to be with other women who served and understand the nuances of the military.” Another participant shared that the training, “changed [her] 26-year outlook on VA in 4 hours.”
Registering for a VA Women’s heaRT Session
VA Women’s heaRT is offering fifty training sessions. With both virtual and in person options. There will be forty virtual and ten in-person. The in-person trainings are located across the country. Scheduled locations are Las Vegas, NV, Tulsa, AZ, Nashville, TN, Sacramento, CA, Seattle, WA, and at various Veteran-centered conferences. Virtual training sessions are provided at many dates and times to accommodate various time zones and personal schedules.
Want to learn more listen to my interview with Aryanna here.
Thank you to VA Women’s heaRT for being a supporter of the Women of the Military Podcast. Make sure to register for a VA Women’s heaRT session today. So you can learn all about women- and veteran-centered VA health care services available to you. Check out the VA Women’s heaRT website to register today!