DC issues Women Veterans Day Proclamation

Lauren Warner
October 22, 2018 - 11:20 am

Photo courtesy of Lauren Warner

It seems that there's a general consensus about the lack of women veteran representation and recognition.

There's a group of women determined to change the perspective of female veterans and their communities when it comes to valuing their service, and they're slowly working across the country on the first step to inclusion. 

Zaneta Adams, founder of WINC: For All Women Veterans, and Mojisola (Mo) Edu, a member of the WINC Board of Directors, have begun an effort to create state-level proclamations intent on celebrating female veterans' service with a Women Veterans Day.

Photo courtesy of Mo Edu

"Zaneta created the proclamation that was passed in Michigan earlier this year for Women Veterans Day and I decided that we needed to start making things happen here in the District," explains Mo. "I have a colleague--Sharod Wade--in the D.C. Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs and knew that that was the perfect place to start."

Sharod Wade, the Community Outreach Specialist for the D.C. Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA), is responsible for a large number of roundtable events held monthly for the veteran community in the District. One of those recurring roundtables is focused on the female veteran community. 

Image courtesy of the DC Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs

"After talking to Ely Ross, head of the MOVA, we decided to incorporate the proclamation into the next roundtable event, Women Veteran Roundtable: Voices of Victory," Mo says. "Sharod and I handled logistics and I was given the reins on facilitating the roundtable. My organization Vet Vine sponsored the food for the event and invited members of WINC to attend and speak."

Focused on keeping the event in-house (in regards the military community), the event kicked off with the National Anthem, sung by Natalie Noland, Active Duty Air Force and a cake was commissioned by Army veteran Erinn Roth, CEO of Ms. Jo's Petite Sweets.

Photo courtesy of Mo Edu

The roundtable worked on creating discussion and a place where female veterans felt comfortable talking about their time in service, many of them expressed feeling like their service didn't matter or they didn't associate with being a veteran. Some of the women were military spouses as well as veterans but found themselves having a difficult time transitioning while their spouse was still serving. One attendee said that the roundtable was the first time she didn't feel silenced and that she could speak about her service and experiences in the military. Mo and Sharod were expecting about twenty veterans to show up, but their expectations were nearly doubled with forty attendees-- showing a clear need by the female veteran community to have their voices heard and their service acknowledged.

Among the attendees was Virginia Delegate Kathleen Murphy--a military brat herself, who hosts veteran roundtables in her state and sponsored the Joint House Resolution that created Women Veterans Week in the state of Virginia. Mojisola said one of the highest compliments from the event came from Murphy who told her that she came to the event to 'see how to do a veteran roundtable right.' Nancy Glowacki from the Department of Labor was also in attendance along with a representative from the VA's Vocational Rehab Office, Alicia Downs--a Marine Corps veteran and Program Manager for Serving Together, and a Minority Veterans Center representative.

Photo courtesy of Mo Edu

There are nine states already specifically honoring female veterans and their service: Michigan, TexasCalifornia, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, PennsylvaniaAlaska. (Puerto Rico also recognizes a Women Veterans Day.) The goal is for all 50 states to have a Women Veterans Day recognizing the contributions of the female veteran population across the country and for those women to have access to programs specific to their needs, from housing and health to employment. 

Mo's next focus is meeting with the Maryland Office of Veterans Affairs while the momentum from D.C.'s proclamation is still high in order to encourage the surrounding states to pass similar legislation.

"The biggest takeaway is that female veterans need to be thanked for their service," says Mo. "We get so caught up in the fact that our scars and service don't amount to anything because we're not male. We need to let female veterans know that they are valuable and deserve to be thanked for their service."

 

To share your thoughts or story, contact us at gethelp@connectingvets.com