Let’s start by addressing some facts about Women Veterans:
- Women have served in the military for hundreds of years: in both World Wars, the Civil War, the American Revolution, and more.
- In 1948, women became an official part of military service.
- In 1970, the first women promoted to General: Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth Hoisington.
- In the 1990s, women began serving in combat.
- Today, there are over 2 million Women Veterans in the United States, and they are the fastest-growing group of Veterans.
Clearly and without question, women have been an integral part of the United States military for as long as their male counterparts. Their service contributed to the health, safety, advancement and strategy of all armed conflicts – and more.
Yet still, Women Veterans feel unrecognized. Still, Women Veterans feel invisible. As they transition to civilian life, many struggle with unparalleled and unprecedented challenges every day.
What can we do?
Challenges of Women Veterans
Vast amounts of research document the unique challenges that Women Veterans face. In many cases, Women Veterans encounter challenges at a higher rate than male veterans or than nonveteran women.
Unique challenges that Women Veterans face include:
- Single Parenthood
- Military Sexual Trauma
The Department of Veterans Affairs reported that women are the fastest-growing subset of homeless Veterans. Plus, they are more likely to be homeless with children.
As if this isn’t troubling enough, nearly a quarter of Women Veterans have been diagnosed with depression. A whopping 20% of Women Veterans struggle with PTSD, and frighteningly, Women Veterans are 1.8 times more likely than civilian women to commit suicide.
This situation is absolutely mind-boggling.
It’s indisputable that Women Veterans bring strength, skills, assets, smarts, and determination to their families, communities, and workplaces. And, we know that employers intentionally recruit Women Veterans because they know the value they will add to their teams.
So, why do Women Veterans continue to face such staggering challenges, despite everything they have to offer?
Based on personal experience and a demonstrated history working with Women Veterans, the leadership of the Women Veterans Interactive Foundation concluded that every single one of these challenges has a common factor:
Women Veterans have a difficult time transitioning from the military.
Why Transitioning to Civilian Life is Difficult
We are not the only ones who have identified the struggles of transitioning Women Veterans; research supports this terrible situation and the factors that contribute to it.
The barriers that stand between many Women Veterans and a successful transition include:
- Feeling Unprepared
- Accessing Resources
- Managing Time and Tasks
- Finding Employment
- Feeling Isolated
- Leading a Family Alone
When Women Veterans don’t have adequate support to create a smooth transition to civilian life, it’s more likely that they’ll find themselves in a state of poverty, homelessness, or mental health distress. Worse, they could wind up fighting suicidal ideations.
We cannot stand by while we lose Women Veterans to completely solvable issues.
It is our duty and our moral obligation to provide quality and meaningful support for Women Veterans.
That’s why WVIF has developed a comprehensive ecosystem of support, specially designed to meet Women Veterans at their points of need. Each one of our programs is rooted in the belief that compassionate support, access to resources, and a strong source of empowerment and community will help Women Veterans achieve post-military success.
Whether Women Veterans attend programs like the Women Veterans Transition Space or Beyond the Transition, or take advantage of empowering seminars like the Pink & White Empowerment Series or the National Women Veterans Leadership & Diversity Conference, they are connecting to a community that cares and engaging in workshops that will equip them for post-military success.
At WVIF, we recognize the state of Women Veterans, and we work tirelessly to close gaps and deliver targeted support. After over a decade on the ground, we’ve developed a community of thousands of Women Veterans across the country.
And it’s our oath to continue serving them, just as they vowed to serve us.