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Archive for the ‘Homelessness’ Category

Veteran Uses Exercise to Tame His Demons

Posted by YWM on January 17, 2014

By Liz McLean: Liz is a staffing advisor at Hewlett Packard, a veteran, Ironman triathlete and guest blogger.

How does one cope with stress?  Common methods are journaling, lighting scented candles, working in the garden or perhaps ferociously shopping on Amazon.com.  More harmful methods include turning to alcohol, excessive sleep or withdrawing from society.  All that being said, when you suffer from stress as severe as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and treat it with alcoholism….in the end an outsider looking in can only hope the outcome is positive.  For Aaron Autler, a 28 year old Marine Infantry veteran, the healthiest methods to cure-all was introduced…..an intense exercise regimen to cope with the demons.  That is the journey that Aaron has started and I am here to help him finish not a 5k.…but an Ironman.

When we think of the typical homeless vet, we envision the older toothless gentlemen with a frayed beard on the street corner, dressed in military garb simply wanting a handout based on the merits of his cardboard sign.  We don’t think of a strapping young, physical specimen of a then 25 year old boy who simply couldn’t cope with reality.

When Aaron returned from his deployment overseas in 2010, there was not a welcoming team to ensure he was on the precise path to civilian populace integration.  Aaron returned to the US without a sense of belonging and without believing he truly deserved a chance to be a contributing member of society.  Fighting the medical systems to get the help that needed and deserved, Aaron’s biggest obstacle was his PTSD.  This (coupled with a faulty reintegration process) left him questioning his purpose and ultimately vet americamigrating on the streets as a homeless veteran.  My personal awareness of the homeless vet population was reinforced from my competition in the Inaugural Miss Veteran America Competition in 2012, where I represented Final Salute in the quest to remove women vets specifically from the alleyways.  Staggeringly, approximately 131,000 homeless vets line the street corners on any given night.

In the instance of Aaron, while on the streets the entity that quieted his dismal voices the most was alcohol.  Sadly alcohol became Aaron’s closest ally as he removed himself further away from the eyes of those who were capable of lending a helping hand.  Fortunately, over time those who saw his struggle eventually reached out and he was pulled from the downward spiral as a date was set for him to enter the Men’s Trauma Recovery Center in Menlo Park, CA.  Through the detox, the torment and countless hours of counseling, the once stellar athlete was then introduced to the art of cycling.  With hours of practice and the support of his trauma group, Aaron was able to not just meet, but exceed all expectations.

Now one year sober and working on his path to become a functioning member of society, Aaron is on the quest to become not just a triathlete…but an Ironman.  Having been a veteran myself who has dealt with personal traumatic struggles and competes in Ironman events, I was elated to coach Aaron on his journey.

The most recent contribution to Aaron’s success was made by Joe Santos of Davis Wheelworks in Davis, CA.  Joe selflessly santos and Autlerreconstructed Aaron’s gifted road bike into the dream triathlon bike.  Joe is a globally respected biomechanic whose precision in the art of cycling has led countless cyclist and triathlete victories.  Thanks to the help of Joe, his astute cycling knowledge and compassion, Aaron will now be able to take the next steps of traumatic recovery by putting his body to the ultimate test in an efficient way.

autler with tri bikeThe discipline of training and the adrenaline of completing a goal that less than 1% of the world’s population has completed is a triumph for any human being….but for someone like Aaron Autler the quest has an entirely new meaning.  Autler says,  “ I want to compete in Triathlons because I love to be challenged; that is why I became a Marine.  It allows me to train in multiple sports and helps occupy a lot of time by keeping my mind focused on improving myself and off the things that keep me stuck and moving backwards. It is a long and short term set of goals and I can measure the progress by competing in events and it is something I can continue to improve for the rest of life.” Cheers to athletics being civilization’s best medicine.

Posted in Friendship, Homelessness, sports, Uncategorized, Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Still Serving!

Posted by YWM on July 16, 2013

Jas BootheCongratulations to Jas Boothe as she joins the the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), on July 1, 2013 as the new Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator.

Jas is the founding president of Final Salute, a Joining Forces Mentoring Plus Community/Resources Partner.  Final Salute has been successfully assisting Northern Virginia and Columbus, OH  homeless women veterans and their families with support services and transitional housing.  Part of the process is helping the woman veteran develop and establish a plan for her future success.

Jas served in the military for 13 years, having to end her career sooner than she wanted because treatments for cancer meant she  couldn’t be the soldier she wanted to be.

The VA is working to better assist women veterans in need of support services of all kinds and adding Jas to their team is certainly step in the right direction.

BPW Foundation salutes you Jas!

Posted in Homelessness, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Women Veterans Speak Out: Each one, reach one: Helping homeless veterans

Posted by Joan Grey on April 16, 2012

Read the latest article in BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces feature that brings us the voices of women veterans telling their stories.

I’ve been part of a spirituality group since I moved to Virginia two years ago.  At one session, I proclaimed to the group that I was interested in social change but not inclined to open my house to a homeless person. Within the year, I had a chance to eat those words.

One of the group members sent an email asking if anyone had space for a woman who was living in her car.  We had a spare room, which is how I met Lynn.  She was a former military spouse who worked as a contractor but lost her source of income when her contract was cancelled.  So Lynn and then her cat (who was evicted from a foster home) came to live with us for four months. During the time she was with us, I introduced Lynn to a college friend, Mary, who provided an insider referral to Mary’s company. Lynn was hired and works for the company to this day.

No matter what your age, educational credentials, or even security clearance (important for employment in DC), many people don’t have the financial cushion to deal with emergencies or loss of income. When you aren’t sure where you’re going to spend the night, it’s hard to focus on much else. Veterans seem to be facing homelessness at a higher rate than the US population at large and women veterans are experiencing an even harder time finding secure housing.

There is no single reason why homelessness is more of an issue for veterans. It may be that they have no family safety net. Many young adults end up living with their parents after they college or if they find themselves between jobs.  According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, homelessness results when individuals cannot resolve life’s basic issues without assistance. Generally, these problems fall into three categories: health issues, economic hardships, and lack of affordable housing.

While BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ is focused on helping with career transitions and advancement for women veterans and military spouses, our mentors are aware that you can’t concentrate on revising your resume when you are sleeping in your car.  In developing Mentoring Plus, we are linking with organizations that help house and outfit women veterans.  Since launching the program in January, we have been affililiating with resource and community partners who can help veterans. Some DC-based Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ partners include Final Salute and Women Veterans Interactive (WVI).  As WVI CEO, Ginger Miller, said, “Our goal is to serve the whole women veteran by meeting her at her point of need.”

The core competency of BPW Foundation is Working•Women•Helping•Women•Work, not homelessness, but we have connections with partners who have special expertise in a variety of areas including housing. Some resources for homeless vets in the DC metro area include: Doorways for Women and Families: http://www.doorwaysva.org/, New Hope Housing: http://www.newhopehousing.org/?page_id=163, and Northern Virginia Family Service: http://www.nvfs.org/ .

While the government provides a safety net for when things go wrong, each of us has the ability to be of service. We are not asking you to open your house, but to reach out a hand. How can you help? Give back to those who have given much. Consider sharing your expertise by becoming a mentor to a woman veteran or military spouse.  BPW’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ program provides training and tools to help you be a successful mentor.  Check out the Mentoring Plus website and sign up. http://www.joiningforcesmentoringplus.org/ Also, connect with us on social media: BPW Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ LinkedIn. Join us on Facebook. Follow BPW on Twitter.

We can’t do everything, but we can do something. What will you do today?

Posted in Families, Financial Security, Homelessness, Joining Forces, mature workers, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Mentoring and Housing Assistance Will Put Women Veterans on Road to Success

Posted by YWM on February 23, 2012

BPW Foundation and Final Salute Partner to Help Homeless Women Veterans

Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation today announced that Final Salute Inc, a Virginia based organization successfully meeting the unique needs of DC Metro Area homeless female veterans and their families, has been designated a Community Partner in Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus®.

“BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® will fill a critical void by matching mentors with homeless women veterans currently receiving housing assistance and services from Final Salute.  Working together, Final Salute and Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® will help these brave women who have returned from military service to face employment challenges that have forced them and their families into homelessness move toward self-sufficiency by finding civilian careers” said BPW Foundation CEO Deborah L. Frett.

There are an estimated 13,000 homeless women veterans in the United States, over half of whom are single mothers. According to HUD and VA statistics, women veterans are significantly more likely to become homeless than their male counterparts. Women veterans are four times more likely to become homeless than non-military women.

“Given the sacrifices they and their families have made, it is unacceptable for any woman veteran to be homeless and most Americans are not even aware that a homeless woman veteran population even exists,” said Final Salute Inc. President and Founder Jas Boothe.  “We believe in giving women veterans the respect due them and working alongside these women to facilitate their path to independence.”

Studies have shown that many factors can lead to homelessness for woman veterans, including unemployment, unawareness, and/or unavailability of veteran’s benefits, legal issues, military sexual trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, service disabilities, divorce/separation, domestic violence, lack of family or social support networks, and substance abuse.

“Through Final Salute’s Housing Outreach Mentorship Encouragement (H.O.M.E.) program, we are providing transitional housing and housing subsidy assistance to homeless women veterans and their children who live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia (DC Metro Area),” Jas Boothe added. “Being able to tap into the Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® network of women mentors and subject matter experts will be invaluable for these women veterans and offer them resources previously unavailable. We are very excited to join BPW Foundation as a Community Partner in Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® and we know that this partnership will support women veterans, our organizations’ mutual goal.”

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® is connecting women veterans of all eras with volunteer working women mentors across the U.S. whose personal and professional training has prepared them to provide insights, advice, and encouragement to help women veterans,” Deborah Frett said. “Working together, volunteer mentors will help steer their mentees on individualized courses of action to succeed in the civilian workplace. Final Salute’s commitment to women veterans and their families is an extraordinary example of serving those who have served, and the organization is uniquely positioned in the DC metro community to address homelessness among this growing population. This is an ideal partnership, and we look forward to helping the too-many homeless women veterans together.”

BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus® was developed following the October, 2010 Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit, which found the need for informed, committed mentors to position and assist women veterans as they search for new employment, hone their career goals, and package their military skills and experience to gain access to meaningful civilian jobs.  First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden highlighted this “mentorship gap” when they applauded BPW Foundation’s mentoring initiative as part of the White House’s national Joining Forces effort.

To join the mentoring program as either a mentor, subject matter expert or mentee sign up on the Joining Forces Mentoring Plus webpage.

Final Salute Inc. was founded in 2010 by Jas Boothe, a female veteran and cancer survivor who became aware of the large number of homeless female veterans and realized the need for an organization to meet and understand the unique needs of homeless female veterans and their children. Final Salute Inc. provides homeless female veterans with safe and suitable housing, financial counseling, and other assistance. Awareness. Assistance. Aspiration. For more information visit http://www.finalsaluteinc.org/

 

Posted in Homelessness, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Mentoring, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – Acknowledging Homeless Women Veterans

Posted by danielleac on January 2, 2012

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.

Acknowledging Homeless Women Veterans

by Debbie Metcalf (as printed in the Asheville Citizen-Times)

 

The horrible situation of being homeless — not having a place to call your own, to lay down in your own bed, make coffee in your own kitchen, and play with your kids in your own den — is made worse if you’re a homeless female veteran, by feelings of embarrassment for being in that situation and anger for having faithfully served our country and still not have a home when you get out.

They come in all shapes and sizes, with varying goals for their lives and differing ideas on how to best attain them. Some of these women are mothers with dependent children to care for. Some are going to school to further their education and increase their work skills. Some of these women are victims of sexual harassment and abuse while serving in the military. Some are addicts and alcoholics. Some are religious and some are not. Some are gay and some are straight. Their lives are as varied as ours.

But their life experiences are very different from ours in that they are experiencing a form of betrayal that most of us have never known. They came home from service in the military to a society that seems to ignore the fact that women have played a vital role in the U.S. armed services for many decades. And contrary to popular thought, women have always been exposed to and participated in very dangerous situations in the military. These women have been injured and experienced loss and sadness while working to serve their country, just as the male veterans. Now, they are homeless.

Asheville is a great area to live and work. We have so many philanthropic organizations that assist people in need. I’m a proud native of Asheville. There are nonprofits dedicated to protecting our rivers, mountains, downtown, greenways, animals, civil rights, air. We have nonprofits to protect handicapped persons and victims of domestic violence, rape, PTSD, child abuse, hate crimes. We also have nonprofits that offer assistance to homeless individuals. The problem in Asheville is that homeless male veterans have a specific place to call their own, whereas homeless female veterans do not have such a facility. The federal government has extended grants to nonprofits to assist homeless veterans in our area. The males have the Veterans Restoration Center at Oteen that houses only male veterans. The women, however, are allocated only 10 beds at the Steadfast House, a homeless shelter that houses all homeless women. Many homeless female veterans are discouraged to accept this housing because of the stringent interviewing process that many feel discriminates against them. These female veterans are also many times left out of the loop about veteran issues and programs available to assist women to achieve their goals in becoming self-sufficient. The homeless female veterans in our area need a transitional facility that serves only veterans and provides information related to their veteran status. It’s only fair.

Homeless female veterans have unique experiences and needs from the general homeless female population. We are committed to doing what we can to bring greater equality for these women. They deserve a group working for them, since they are being short-changed by the existing organizations that are funded to assist homeless vets. It’s the age-old problem of sexism in our society. Women who have served in the military are victims of a patriarchal culture that devalues their worth, minimizing their involvement in the service of our country. We need to stand up for these voiceless women who are living at the mercies of a patriarchal organization and get them some real help; the kind of help that will get them out of their current situation and into a place of their own. They have much to offer society. But first we need to offer them a hand-up so they can get their lives back in order.These women need clothes to wear to job interviews. They need transportation to appointments and sometimes assistance completing applications for housing, food assistance, school, employment. They need a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night, until they can get a permanent place of their own. We are working to make that happen.

For more information on the effort to end homelessness among the women veteran population in Asheville, contact Debbie at mzdjm@live.com

 

Posted in Families, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – From One Woman Veteran to Another

Posted by danielleac on December 19, 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.

Introduction: Years ago, BPW Foundation realized that newly-minted women veterans were faltering, missing crucial steps during the transition process from military service to civilian life. Research into the topic uncovered the startling fact that the transition process was not a linear process, nor did it follow a specific timeline. In an effort to be proactive in addressing these stumbling blocks, BPW Foundation developed the Dear Jane campaign, a collection of letters from women veterans back to active-duty women who were getting ready to leave the military. Although the active campaign is over, we still collect these insights and publish as visibly as possible in order to continue connecting the dots. Below is the latest submission.


Welcome Home!

by Lisa DeBerardinis

Dear Jane,

I am a Proud United States Navy Veteran – Seabee, I served from 1981-1988.

I salute you, The New Greatest Generation, and members of the best armed forces in the world!

There are many things I would have done differently after leaving the Navy.

I wish that I wouldn’t have kept a “gotta be tough” attitude for so long. I wandered through this civilian world from that time until about two years ago, when I’d finally had enough and reached out to VA for help. So being “tough” means advocating for yourself.

Like many of you might, I returned home and found myself a single parent, I struggled with depression which was recently found to be a result of MST. I’ve experienced periods of homelessness, although I am blessed that my periods of homelessness meant staying with this friend or that, traveling from here to there hoping things would change.

This letter does not specifically address how to deal with every issue that we face, there are too many! I finally have found my niche (it only took 23 years! 🙂 serving the people I care about most, my fellow Veterans, especially my Sisters.

My advice is too please not wait to seek any assistance or help that you need! Advocate for yourself. Should you have any questions, need assistance/guidance on how to utilize the VA, and what we have available, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE to contact me! Sometimes, unfortunately, the VA can be baffling and frustrating but I will try to answer your questions or at least know where to direct you to get what you need. Our system is Nationwide, so it’s not a problem wherever you are. I hope to hear from you. I have all the respect you.

And can’t wait to say WELCOME HOME!

Respectfully,

Lisa DeBerardinis

Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist

Compensated Work Therapy TVHA- York Campus

Lisa.DeBerardinis@va.gov

Ph: 615-225-3926/615-427-5215

Posted in Advocacy, Friendship, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

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

Posted in Homelessness, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

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

Posted by danielleac on September 12, 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

From HomeLESS to HomeOWNER! (Part one of a two-part series: Jessica Campbell’s  story)

Life in a Nutshell -The Road to Homelessness

In 2002, at the age of 21, I made the decision to quit wandering around the small Arkansas town I’m from and to make something of myself. I chose to enlist  in the Army. I spent several months in  basic and advanced training in the field of Communications, learning how to be a Networking Systems Switching Operator or, in layman’s terms, to set up networks for phone and internet access. I learned how to use large computers mobilized on HMMWVs to perform system and network operations in the field, including development of user databases and ongoing preventative maintenance and troubleshooting. I was also awarded a Secret clearance. Once this training concluded, I was shipped to my permanent duty station in Georgia…. only to be shipped off to war six weeks later.

I spent 10 months serving in Kuwait and Iraq attached to a Large Extension Network team, a moving convoy of HMMWVs responsible for providing communications for the front line. We had no protection, no combat unit providing cover during our missions following the moving operations around the country while Baghdad was being bombed. We unexpectedly took fire during a one-day mission, barely avoiding injury and knowing we were sitting ducks.

Living in the line of fire day after day creates a stressful, constant paranoia, although it is required to stay alive, there is a cumulative mental and physical toll.

When I came home I was a different person. I couldn’t feel, couldn’t think, couldn’t function the way I used to. I seemed to be in a state of shock, and began self-medicating with alcohol to deal with the insomnia. This led to trouble in my military life – I had a hard time making morning formations after being up all night, unable to sleep. My coping mechanism, alcohol, earned me a DUI and the embarrassment and shame that goes along with it…with family, friends, and my own self image.  When my unit was issued orders for deployment again, I didn’t go—I decided to accept a general discharge instead of going overseas. I couldn’t do it again.

Once released from active duty, I didn’t have anywhere to go.  There wasn’t any transition help available—for a job or anything. I ended up approaching the VA hospital in Florida for help with the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms I had. They dealt with me in a dismissive manner – prescribed medication and sent me on my way.  I wasn’t mentally equipped to deal with everyday life at that point, my part-time job at Home Depot involved dealing with customers, and I really couldn’t handle the “in-your-face” attitude many of the civilians I was working with had.  After bouncing around from friend-to-friend’s homes aimlessly for a couple of years, I finally exhausted my resources and had to admit that I was homeless.

Now in South Carolina, I again approached the VA for assistance. They gave me a list of local shelters. I approached several of the shelters, but was denied entry because I wasn’t broken enough.

I didn’t come from prison. I didn’t suffer from alcoholism. I hadn’t been battered physically. I didn’t have children. I didn’t meet any of the criteria needed to receive their help. Thank goodness the last shelter on the list, Angel’s House, had space for me. After spending two months there and completing a job training program with the local non-profit, Fast Forward Community Technology Center, I saved up enough money to strike out on my own. I also secured a full-time job with a company offering medical benefits, 401K benefits with full vesting, and vacation time.

I still can’t afford a lot of luxuries, like internet and cable, but I am on my own two feet and getting better every day.

From Left to Right: Dee of Fast Forward, Jessie, and Bobbie of Angel House. Thanks to the helping hand extended by both of these fantastic women and the non-profits they run, Jessie was able to get back on her feet.

It took four years. Four years for me to go from active duty and traumatized to satisfactory civilian employment and independent living.  If I could influence the transition process for any service member returning to civilian life, it would be to have more access to information about programs and services that are available to veterans, best and worst case scenarios.

I wasn’t prepared when I left active duty, and I don’t think anyone should leave the service without going through transition or re-entry services.

(Stay tuned for Part II: What a Difference a Year Makes!)

As told to and edited by Danielle Corazza

Posted in Combat, Gen Y, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Non Traditional Jobs, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Joining Forces: Women Veterans Speak Out – No One Told Me

Posted by danielleac on July 4, 2011

Read the latest installment of our 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.


No One Told Me
by Ginger Miller

I joined the Navy to get the GI Bill to go to college….mission accomplished…well almost. The GI Bill seemed like a sure fire way to get ahead of the game, after being discharged out of the Navy. Yeah that’s right, get out, go to college, and then get a good job. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy!

No one told me about the years of backlog with filing claims at the VA Regional Office, and no one told me that my husband, who was my knight in shining armor, would come back from war a changed man suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

No one told me that there was a strong possibility that I, an honorably discharged disabled female veteran, could become homeless, and that I would have to work three jobs, go to school full-time, take care of my  husband with PTSD, and my 3 year old son, all while living in sub-standard housing conditions.

No one told me during the three-day transition course provided exiting military members that I really wasn’t prepared for the real world and that, there was a strong possibility that my life would be turned upside down for years to come.

No one told me that I would cry out to God after 20 years of marriage, wanting to know if my marriage was a blessing or a curse.

No one told me that God would light a fire up under me to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless and at risk veterans.

No one told me that through my efforts to reach out and help other veterans that my healing process would begin.

No one told me that I would reach the lives of so many veterans in need.

No one told me that through my advocating efforts that I would be appointed to the Maryland Caregivers Support Coordinating Council and the Maryland Commission for Women.

No one told me that one day I would be standing next to some of our country’s greatest senators at a senate press conference, advocating to save the HUD VASH Voucher program.

No one told me that I would one day pursue a master’s degree in non-profit management.

No one told me that the little boy who was once homeless with his parents, both disabled veterans, would grow up to be accepted into the University of Maryland at College Park, with aspirations of becoming an anesthesiologist.

No one told me, but now I know, I will stand on the rooftop and tell every veteran, male or female, that there is help available.

I will tell them about the resources to help them make a smooth transition from active duty to civilian status.

I will tell them that there is hope, because I made it and they can too.

I am Ginger Miller, Disabled Veteran-Wife-Mother-Caregiver-Advocate-Commissioner and President  & CEO of John 14:2, Inc and I am on a mission to help my brother and sister veterans so that they will never have to say, “No one told me.”

Posted in Diversity, Homelessness, Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

News to Chew On: Link Love for Lunch

Posted by sherrysaunders on February 25, 2011

Woman by woman the VA is changing its culture [Salt Lake Tribune]

Homeless women veterans: Americans latest war casualties [Suite101.com]

Microfinance programs for American women [Huffington Post]

Women want jobs based on their merit [Forbes]

The political attack on working women and families [Huffington Post]

Must women entrepreneurs learn to “bluster”? [BusinessWeek]

Female vets have harder time finding jobs [KAIT 8]

Soldier Mom deploys for 4th time [Army Times]

Unemployment challenging gender roles [Chicago Tribune]

Study of working moms nauseates [Boston Herald]

America last among peers with no paid federal maternity leave [Bloomberg]

Flawed study on women and science careers gets wide media attention [Womens eNews]

Finding homes for women vets and their children [Huffington Post]

Women who out earn their husbands [Slate]

For female reporters a war on many fronts [NPR]

Female owned business responsible for job creation in US [PRLog]

The state of women leadership around the world [Forbes]

Veterans and advocates condemn military’s failure to stop rapes [NewsChange]

How the green economy can help low income women [States News]  

Men bounce back faster after recession’s uneven blows [BND]

Pentagon now supports bill to protect troops’ child custody rights [Stripes]

NPR Series the Changing Role of Women in the Military:
Part I The roles of women in the military and combat [NPR]
Part II First female Silver Star award winner since WWII, a reluctant hero[NPR]
Part III Ret. Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught remembers her “different” military days [NPR
Part IV A soldier’s life for mother and daughter [NPR]
Part V – In the Army it is lonely at the top for women [NPR]

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