Breast cancer diagnoses have dropped by more than 50% since the spring of 2020. That’s not necessarily a good thing. Early in the pandemic, hospitals and community screening facilities closed. Many women had their routine mammograms postponed or canceled unless symptoms of cancer were present.

VA medical centers, following CDC guidelines, have since changed room layouts, check-in procedures, cleaning processes and more to make the environment safe for Veterans. But what if a VA location doesn’t offer mammography services, like the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven and Newington?

VA Connecticut’s local community care office got the gears turning and rolled out an action plan.

“We refer and rely on our Community Care Network (CCN) providers to perform those services, but some providers are experiencing a backlog of mammograms due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Kathleen Stewart, VA Connecticut’s community care officer and an Army Veteran.

Mobile mammography buses at VA facilities

“We decided to couple a VA Love-Your-Self Campaign with CCN local providers Hartford Healthcare and Yale New Haven Health Systems by having their mobile mammography buses visit our facilities for two days,” Stewart added. “Over 30 Veterans received a mammogram and OCC hopes to continue bringing the buses to VA Connecticut.” reports one in eight of all women are at risk for developing breast cancer, and rates are higher among women of color. Dorely Roldan is the community outreach coordinator for Hartford Health Care. Roldan added, “That’s why you’ll find our unit at libraries and churches in those communities where cancers are being detected, or going undetected, and we target that community.”

“This is a fantastic addition to what VA offers,” said Air Force Veteran Britt Conroy. “I had a wonderful experience using the mammo bus. I was seen right on time. Everyone from check-in to check-out was professional and I was back in my car in 15 minutes, which is outstanding.

“While a mammogram can be uncomfortable, I don’t think this appointment could have gone any better,” she said. “I also appreciate the Love-Your-Self gift bag. I feel valued here and fortunate to get my care at VA.”

VA’s women’s health services are designed for the fastest-growing group within the Veteran population. The programs are high-quality, gender-specific, comprehensive and available where and when Veterans need them.

Apply for VA Health Care. Once approved, ask your VA primary care provider what the best health care options are for you at VA or in the community.

Pallas Wahl is a public affairs specialist for the VHA Office of Community Care.

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Published on Mar. 30, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.1 min.

Views to date: 145


  1. Christopher April 7, 2021 at 2:59 am

    I find this article very biased. I haven’t had nothing but problems with the CCN. 1st. What is the role of Triwest and Optum and why is the VA dictating healthcare approvals? There is a lot of taxpayers $$$ being wasted somewhere!
    This is an example:True Story , I went to a ccn primary dr who is an approved Optum provider. I needed to see a rheumatologist . CCN PRIMARY Had to contact VA primary who then sent a consult to ccn to get it approved or not. So, it gets approved and I saw a rheumatologist and he ordered a bunch of blood work and wants to see me in a week for results. They have in-house labs, but guess what? CCN and the VA couldn’t get it approved right then while I was there and I was told it would take several days. So, I went to the VA outpatient clinic and explained the situation. They attempted to draw labwork,but was only able to get 2-3 tubes so, I ended up having to drive 3 hrs round trip to the VA hospital to get the rest of my lab work done. Then it was like 2 weeks later until the results were available and the funny thing was the VA outsourced the labwork to the same corp that was in house at the rheumatologist clinic. Oh, I could go on and on with more examples of this Failed Mission Act Veterans Healthcare.
    Triwest and Optum should be contracted healthcare providers. Let veterans receive care through their physicians,but the VA should only be a payer to Triwest & Optum to provide such services. Leave the VA out of any more red tape of needing approvals. Also, veterans should be able to get their meds written by ccn drs free of charge at approved pharmacies under Triwest & Optum. Veterans shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket and then be forced to try to recuperate that money from the VA. Taxpayers and Veterans are better off with a VA insurance contracted with Triwest & Optum to provide such services instead of the current broken system.

  2. Joyce Gonzalez March 31, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    It would be great to have a mammogram bus or a women’s clinic here in NJ. But the NJ VA Healthcare system continues to tell us that “we don’t have the numbers”. It’s sad when veterans have to be turned away and serviced by outside providers because we are not seen as important contributors requiring proper Healthcare.

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