Army National Guard Veteran Kim had a service-connected disability, but didn’t know she was eligible for free health care at VA. Now, she is determined to spread the word to other women Veterans.
Tell me what benefits you do utilize from the VA.
VA has opened up doors for me in my career, financially, getting my medical care, I got my master’s degree. I used the GI Bill. So now a part of my job as a social worker, I feel like, is educating.
When did you first come into contact with VA?
When I was still working for the National Guard. VA was present at the reintegration events. I had no idea what I was eligible for. In basic training, I broke my hip, my last week of basic training.
I had no idea that I could get disability for that, that I could get care through the VA for that, that I could get benefits, free health care for that.
I don’t think I would be where I’m at if it wasn’t for VA. And I think being a female Veteran, you know, where, it’s the smallest group using the VA and yet the largest group that needs it. I don’t think a week goes by that I don’t meet a female Veteran who is unaware of the services she can get through the VA.
And how are the services?
Great. I actually just went for my annual physical in the women’s clinic about 10 days ago. And I had a new doctor. She spent an hour with me.
That just doesn’t happen. She collected all sorts of history on my family, asked me questions about myself — an hour. I mean, I maybe get 15 or 20 minutes at my civilian doctor.
And did you use those services when you were pregnant?
I did. My last son, who was born in March of 2012, I used the maternity care. Women just don’t really realize you can come to the VA for healthcare, and get your maternity care paid for, and get a breast pump.
I mean these are all sorts of things that I was not aware of until I went there. I think just finding someone who can help you navigate the system or go with someone, go with another female veteran or another veteran, that can be very helpful.
Veterans might be eligible for things that they had no idea they were eligible for, no matter what age you are. I have three boys. They are wonderful and they know about VA. They know mommy was in the army, so, it’s pretty cool.
Apply for VA Health Care
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Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for the National Veterans Outreach Office.