MacDill launches program, assists military women in transition to civilian life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, is one of five sites participating in a new program called the Women’s Health Transition Pilot Program that launched in July 2018.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Women’s Health Services Office noticed the rising suicide rates among servicewomen and lower VA enrollment rates compared to transitioning male veterans.

According to the VA, women face higher health-related challenges post-military service compared to their male counterparts to include suffering with chronic pain, obesity, musculoskeletal issues, depression and suicide. Since 2001, age-adjusted rates of suicide among women veterans have increased by 85.2 percent. 

“The biggest obstacle that the VA faces is simply awareness on what they provide to female veterans,” said Maj. Alea Nadeem, Headquarters Air Force deputy mission manager and member of the Women Initiatives Team. “That statistic, it was heartbreaking to learn, and it really drove me to help in developing this program that could potentially save lives.”

To close the gap on education regarding personal health and wellbeing during and after military transition, the VA partnered with the U.S. Air Force Women’s Initiative Team to develop an in-person program that offers a female perspective for those who plan to transition to civilian, Reserve or Guard status.

“By providing relevant VHA health enrollment information, and describing the extent and depth of services offered at VHA, related to women’s health, women veterans will learn how to access the health care services that they need and want at the VA in a timely manner,” Nadeem added.

After development in late 2017, the VA Women’s Health Transition Pilot Program had two initial pilot sessions in February 2018 at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, and the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia.

The official kickoff began in July and the pilot series will run for nine months. In addition to MacDill, this program is also hosted at Hill AFB, Utah, and Scott AFB, Illinois.

Not only is MacDill one of the first bases to test out this program, it was the first location to offer a VA Medical Center visit.

“The best part of the day for me was the trip to the Women’s Center at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital so everyone could experience a VA facility firsthand instead of only seeing pictures or talking about it,” added Pamela Smith-Beatty, the Women Veterans Program Manager at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. “The program definitely has potential for increasing women Veteran enrollment in VA healthcare, so I hope the word gets out so that all military women can attend.”  

Upcoming sessions at MacDill will take place on August 27th, September 17th, October 22nd, and November 20th. For additional information, contact the Military and Family Readiness Center at (813)828-0145.