Women served in the United States Military as early as the Revolutionary War. Since then, women of all ages, ranks, and levels of authority have entered every branch of service, made significant contributions, and suffered the same sacrifices as men. As a woman with military service, you may qualify for a wide range of benefits offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Women Veterans may be eligible for a wide-variety of benefits available to all U.S. military Veterans. VA benefits include disability compensation, pension, education and training, health care, home loans, insurance, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and burial. See our Veterans page for an overview of the benefits available to all Veterans.
The following sections provide information about VA benefits and programs specifically for Women Veterans.
VA Benefits and Programs for Women Veterans
Center for Women Veterans
VA’s Center for Women Veterans monitors and coordinates VA’s administration of benefit services and programs for women Veterans. The Center advocates for a cultural transformation that recognizes the service and contributions of women Veterans and women in the military, and also raises awareness of the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect.
Learn more about the Center for Women Veterans.
Women Veteran Coordinators
There are Women Veteran Coordinator (WVCs) located in every regional office who function as the primary contact for women Veterans. WVCs provide specific information and comprehensive assistance to women Veterans, their dependents, and beneficiaries concerning VA benefits and related non-VA benefits. They may assist you in the claims intake, development, and processing of military sexual and personal trauma claims.
VA Health Care for Women Veterans
At each VA medical center nationwide, a Women Veterans Program Manager (WVPM) is designated to advise and advocate for women Veterans. The WVPM can help coordinate all the services you may need, from primary care to specialized care for chronic conditions or reproductive health. Woman Veterans who are interested in receiving care at VA should contact the nearest VA Medical Center and ask for the WVPM.
Woman Veterans who are interested in receiving care at VA should contact the nearest VA Medical Center and ask for the Women Veterans Program Manager.
Learn more about the VA Health Care for Women Veterans.
VA Benefits for Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
VA has special services available to help women who experienced military sexual trauma (MST), including free, confidential counseling and treatment for mental and physical health conditions related to MST. You do not need to have a service-connected disability or injury, and may be able to receive this benefit even if you are not eligible for other VA care. You do not need to have reported the incidents when they happened or have other documentation that they occurred in order to receive MST services.
Every VA facility has a designated MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. This person is your advocate and can help you find and access VA services and programs, state and federal benefits, and community resources.
How to Apply
The specific VA benefit or program web page will provide tailored information about how to apply for a particular benefit or program. Generally, Servicemembers, Veterans, and families can apply for VA benefits using one of the methods below.
Feature HeadingIn honor of Black History Month, CalVet is sharing stories of black women and men veterans through CalVet Connect, so please read here.
The first documented role of an African American woman serving her country in the Union Army was Susie King Taylor – a former slave who became a Civil War nurse, cook, and laundress. As an educated woman, she also established a handful of schools for freed slaves and soldiers, as well as their children. Even though she was never paid for service, she wrote in her journal, “I was very happy to know my efforts were successful in camp, and also felt grateful for the appreciation of my service. I gave my services willingly for four years and three months without receiving a dollar. I was glad, however, to be allowed to go with the regiment, to care for the sick and afflicted comrades.”
Historically, when women first answered the call to join the U.S. Armed Forces, they had to disguise themselves as men. Cathay William was the first to do this when she joined the U.S. Regular Army in 1866 and served three years in the 38thUS Infantry, becoming the only recorded African American woman to join the distinguished Buffalo Soldiers.During WWII, the first all-female African American unit was established within the Women’s Army Corps in 1944. These women were assigned overseas to take on Herculean administrative efforts that shattered the stereotypes of African American women and how they were portrayed in popular culture. Their ground breaking efforts and subsequent return to the U.S. was met with little fanfare as they were disbanded. Their legacy of overcoming prejudice and racism never diminished their pride for representing their gender, culture, and country.
In the military today, African American women are now commanding and training U.S. Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in all capacities, combat and peacetime. Post-9/11 women veterans account for 36 percent of all women veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of that number, just over 23 percent are African American women under 45 years old.
This month, we honor the contributions and the paths blazed by African American women veterans and encourage all in the community to seek ways to celebrate too!
The National Association of Black Military Women(NABMW) mission is to “seek out, record, maintain and tell the history and heritage of African American Military Women who served and are serving in the United States Armed Forces.” Create American herstory by sharing your experiences with NABMW and click here.
Unsung Heroes Living History Project is ongoing as it continues to salute and preserve the legacy of African Americans in the military in multiple ways. Learn more at https://www.unsungheroeslhp.org/.
Make your story part of American history. The Women’s Memorial in Arlington is dedicated to the history preservation of women in the military. Learn more at https://www.womensmemorial.org/.
2020 Goals and CalVet Updates This webinar reviewed what our Division plans for 2020 are and how CalVet programs continue to flourish and support women veterans throughout the state. Discover, connect, and learn more about women veteran communities.