VA medical centers around the country are providing needed support to expectant Veteran moms with the continuation of its VA baby showers. The showers are just one way that VA has responded to helps Veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Women Veterans are still the fastest growing group of Veterans coming to VA for care,” said Patricia Hayes explains, VA’s chief officer for Women’s Health Services. “We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of Veterans obstetrics and fertility care paid for through VA’s Community Care Network with community health care providers. Our mission is to ensure Veterans get the health care services they have earned. We also provide them with additional support whenever possible.”
Showers held for over a decade
Hines VA staff and volunteers cheer on Veteran moms during its VA Baby Shower.
VA baby showers are not new to VA. The traditionally indoor and in-person events have been held for well over a decade at different medical centers prior to the onset of COVID-19.
The provision of resources, clothing and baby items for moms in one-stop shop events by VA makes the agency an anomaly among health care organizations across the nation.
Pictured above, Veteran Warrior moms participated in a drive-thru baby shower held at Hard Rock Stadium. The event was hosted in partnership with the Miami Dolphins, Fins Community and United Way – Miami Mission United.
For these events, VA medical centers often have the support of local and national community benefactors. Benefactors donate money, time, goods and assistance to support the baby showers.
Grateful for community partnerships
“Leveraging our resources with community-wide backing for the betterment of Veterans is a top program priority for VA’s Center for Development & Civic Engagement,” said Sabrina Clark, director of Voluntary Services. “The COVID-19 pandemic has truly brought out the best in our communities in terms of its support of our nation’s heroes. We are grateful for the partnerships that allow us to proudly support Veterans through community donations. It’s a helpful addition to the provision of VA health care.”
Firefighters provide a quality check on baby Atticus at a VA Baby Shower hosted by the James H. Quillen VA.
The onset of the pandemic has disrupted usual in-person celebrations in the U.S. Still, VA medical centers adapt their events to the current climate. They’re converting to either drive-thru or virtual platforms.
Air Force Veteran Melissa Perkins was one of the expectant moms honored during a baby shower event at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.
“I’m sure there were smiles behind their masks”
“While this year was a bit different due to the circumstances, VA did an outstanding job,” Perkins said. “They went out of their way when they could have easily cancelled this event. I’m sure they had smiles behind their masks. They were genuinely excited to be out there and were super friendly.”
During the pandemic, nearly 300 women Veterans were honored at VA baby showers at more than 14 VA health care facilities nationwide. Sites include the Miami VA Healthcare System and the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System.
Additional baby showers will be held throughout the remainder of the year at different VA facilities. The VA Loma Linda Health Care System is planning a shower for this coming May.
For more information about women Veterans health care, visit www.womenshealth.va.gov or call the Women Veterans Call Center at 1-855-VA-WOMEN.
Information on how to volunteer with and donate to VA can be found at www.volunteer.va.gov.
Kenita Tills is an Army Veteran and a communications specialist for the VHA Office of Communications – Media Relations.