BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Misbehavin’ Notification: A Salute to Women Veterans

Posted by YWM on August 18, 2011

Excerpts from remarks by Deborah L. Frett, CEO, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation at the Salute to Women Veterans, in Chicago, August 12, 2011.

Deborah L. Frett, BPW Foundation CEO

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation is pleased to be here tonight with the Chicago Sky, saluting our women veterans.   I would like to thank the Chicago Sky team and staff for joining us in hosting this special Salute to Women Veterans tonight.   We are very grateful that they are raising the visibility of women veterans in our society  – as women veterans often do not self-identify and are often overlooked.

I also want to Thank you Col. Sylvia Moran. We are delighted that you could join us tonight and share some of your insights based on your 35 years of experience in the military, as part of that historic West Point Class of female firsts and as well as your personal transition experiences.

BPW has been advancing the cause of working women since 1919; and BPW Foundation comes naturally to our work of supporting women veterans.

  • We were the first to focus our research and programs exclusively on women in the workforce.
  •  We were the first to elevate issues of women in non-traditional occupations.
  • And we were the first to examine the domestic and workplace needs of women veterans as they transition from military to civilian life.

BPW Foundation has always focused on working women – and more specifically, women working in non-traditional occupations including the military.

Women have fought for and served our nation since its beginning.  Women now represent more than 15% of our service members and there are almost 2 million women veterans with an anticipated 150,000 more transiting from military to civilian life in the next five years.   Our country has been slow to acknowledge this demographic change and is just now recognizing that veteran services and programs designed for men don’t necessarily work for our women veterans.  It is time to be sure that we recognize their strengths and abilities and ensure that they easily transition into successful civilian careers.

BPW Foundation recently launched the Joining Forces for Women Veterans Mentorship Program.  How we developed this program and got to where we are today can be summarized in three steps:

  • We actually asked women veterans what they needed.
  • We didn’t stop with research.
  • We are implementing a course for change.

The first step – We actually asked women veterans what they needed.

  • In 2005 we recognized that the surge of women veterans returning home from two wars was an unaddressed issue;
  • In 2007 we conducted and published the first research that examined the transition of women veterans of all eras back into the civilian workplace

The second step – We didn’t stop with research.

Last fall we organized and hosted the Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit, to educate the government and employers from all sectors about the gender distinct issues and challenges faced by women veterans.  The discussions at that meeting resulted in the publication of a Summary Report outlining recommendations and the next steps that need to be taken to support our women veterans.

And the third step – We are implementing a course for change.

  • Because of what we learned from our research and during the Summit, we launched the Joining Forces for Women Veterans Mentorship Program. Evidence pointed to the need for one-on-one mentoring to help women veterans make the transition to successful, meaningful jobs and fulfilling civilian lives.

In addition, The Office of the First Lady and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce highlighted this “mentorship gap” with their recognition of BPW Foundation as point organization for a large-scale mentoring initiative to benefit women veterans and military spouses.

Working with our partner, the U.S. Chamber, and others, we intend to significantly increase women veteran and military spouse employment by joining forces in public private partnerships and establish a network of 10,000 women mentors from corporate, government and nonprofit communities across the country and connect them with women veterans and military wives by the end of 2012.  Beyond this joint program, BPW Foundation’s Mentorship Program has a goal of eventually engaging 100,000 women mentors.

We will be partnering with corporations and businesses across the country to accomplish this and I hope that some of you will join us in the effort.  Of course I hope many of you will also agree to join us as mentors.  You can sign up on our website, BPWFoundation.org, to get updates and information on how you can participate.

Again, I want to thank the Chicago Sky, Colonel Moran, William Schmutz of the Chicago Mayor’s Office and all of you for joining us in this Salute for Women Veterans tonight.

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