BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – HomeLESS to HomeOWNER! Part II

Posted by YWM on September 26, 2011

Read the latest article of BPW Foundation’s every-other-week Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.  If you are a women veteran who would like to share your story, please contact us through our Joining Forces for Women Veterans Facebook page, or email dcorazza@bpwfoundation.org

What a Difference a Year Makes!

By Danielle Corazza

Almost a year ago, at the inaugural Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit, I had the honor of meeting fellow woman veteran Jessica (Jessie) Campbell.  She was a participant on the Homelessness panel, and recounted her journey in and out of homelessness as she struggled to conquer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in Iraq and subsequently leaving the military.

Her story could have happened to anyone. The difference between a smooth transition from military life to civilian life and a bumpy road full of challenges is minute. In Jessie’s own words, she was never broken enough to receive the major intervention services that are offered to veterans, but she was still in need of an advocate, a helping hand, and a little understanding.

Since meeting Jessie last year, I have watched from afar as she continued to regain her confidence and found her stride – life is now running smoothly as she has excelled at her job, found her place in her community, and even bought a house.

Yes, a house. Imagine how satisfying buying a permanent shelter for yourself must be to someone who has couch-surfed, bouncing from place to place, always worrying about wearing out your welcome before you found a new place to go. Or to someone who has lived in a shelter, knowing that the clock was counting down (most shelters are limited in the time and space they can offer one individual).

With a little understanding from an employer, Jessie’s fall into homelessness could have been avoided. Had she been comfortable talking with her employer about the reasons behind her anxiety and her need for consistent treatment… Had the VA hospital she received care from been a little more understanding and capable of serving women veterans… Had a peer understood what she was going through and offered comfort…. I’m sure some of her hardships could have been overcome before she hit rock bottom.

Part of BPW Foundation’s mission is to focus on advocating for under-served populations of working women, and educating employers on how to create Successful Workplaces. Women veterans definitely meet that definition, being almost invisible to the public, although the population count is almost to two million.

Our inaugural Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit last year brought private, public, and government organizations together in an effort to elevate women veterans’ issues, seek solutions, and promote the hiring of these adaptive, resourceful women as employees.

One year later, the Fast Forward Community Technology Center, in partnership with the BPW Foundation’s local Legacy Organization BPW/Columbia, SC are holding an anniversary Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit. One year later, Jessie Campbell will not be filling the role of women veteran speaker searching for her place in this world, but instead as women veteran who has found a home. And bought it!

For more information about the Summit, email Dee Albritton at dee@fastforwardctc.com.  To learn more about BPW Foundation’s programs for women veterans visit our website, www.womenjoiningforces.org

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One Response to “Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – HomeLESS to HomeOWNER! Part II”

  1. Noelle Navas said

    I applaud Jessie for overcoming her challenges despite adversity and lack of initial support. As a fellow veteran, I am not surprised about the challenges Jessie faced when she first approached the VA as I was disappointed by some of the practices I witnessed when I transitioned in 2009. However, I am happy to say that I think the VA has taken some big steps towards improvement. Most recently, I enrolled in the Washington, D.C. VA and was impressed by the overall service at the hospital. Not only was I instantly assigned to the women’s clinic, but the care from the nurses and doctors in the clinic was outstanding. I only hope that in the future, when another Jessie walks into the VA, she (or he) receives the treatment that they need to get their life back and to be able to contribute to the workforce. This made me think of a great article I recently read in the August 29th Time magazine, titled “The New Greatest Generation.” It described our generation of vets as having a basic altruism and how we view the American public. I definitely recommend reading it. As a member of this generation, we should look for employment at companies that seek these qualities and provide the type of atmosphere for us to prosper in our careers. My company, Siemens, was actually the only company mentioned in the article for committing to hiring hundreds of veterans this year. I also recommend–to any transitioning vet–to check out American Corporate Partners, a nationwide mentoring program for US veterans. Siemens, along with other corporations, has employees who volunteer their time to mentor vets in order to obtain their civilian job goals.

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