Last week I shared the information on the House passing H.R. 3224 the Deborah Sampson Act. This bill is designed to make changes, at Veteran Administration (VA) Medical Centers, to address the specific needs and services of women Veterans.
This bill passed the House and is now headed to the Senate where many of the bills to help Veterans become stalled. Just remember the Blue Water Navy Act was passed two sessions ago only to sit dormant in the Senate before the bill was passed and signed into law.
I asked last week, that my readers spread the word about the Deborah Sampson Bill and contact Senators Blackburn and Alexander. This week I would like to remind you, since many transplants live in the area, to contact the Senators where you came from.
I have contacted Senators Manchin and Capito from my home state of West Virginia. I haven’t lived there in years but keep abreast of issues and events that affect my family and friends who still live there. I have asked them all to support this bill and make those calls. You can do the same for these important issues, especially ones Veterans face.
WOMEN, TRANSITIONING FROM MILITARY TO VETERANS:
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) funded, “Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home”, is a comprehensive study of the many challenge’s women face when they leave military service. The study’s executive summary states, “One of the most persistent problems is a military and veterans’ culture that is not perceived as welcoming to women and does not afford them equal consideration. VA’s Women Veterans’ Task Force noted the “need for culture change across the VA to reverse the enduring perception that a woman who comes to VA for services is not a veteran herself, but a male veteran’s wife, mother, or daughter.”
Our nation does not yet adequately recognize and celebrate the contributions of women in military service, treat them with dignity and respect, or promote their successful transition to civilian life. This is a foundational issue and will be one of the most critical but difficult to address.”
This foundational issue of a successful transition from military to civilian life is discussed in the article, “Why leaving the military is harder for female vets,” by Apoorva Mittal shares the experiences of a female veteran. Jodie M Grenier, was an intelligence analyst working for then Marine Corps General Jim Mattis, who left the military in 2005. She went from this position requiring a Top-Secret security clearance to waiting tables while attending a community college. Not having children afforded her flexibility many other women veterans might not have.
Statistics show that Grenier is not alone. There are approximately 2 million women veterans and more than 30,000 leave the military each year. The VA recognizes women will make up 18% of the veteran population by 2040.
Grenier has used her education and military experiences to become CEO of the “Foundation for Women Warriors (F4WW) in 2016. F4WW has roots dating back to when the California Soldiers Widow’s Home Association opened in 1921. The organizations focus has grown from helping Mothers and Widows of WWI and Spanish American War soldiers who lost their lives. Today they support and empower women veterans and provide support to their families.
Mittal’s article stresses that when women leave the military, they face unique challenges in civilian life. There is a lack of “community” for female veterans and lack of child-care assistance for single mothers. (Divorces, while in the military, have affected 23% of women and only 12% of men being discharged.)
Experts say that female veterans face financial instability with 67% finding financial transition from the military difficult compared to 47% of men. The military “community” provided a daily work/off duty regiment and support and a paycheck twice a month that is no longer there.
The steady paycheck received while in the military is no guarantee in the civilian world. The sudden loss of regular income for a transitioning woman can be difficult. From a stable monthly designed budget to dealing with a simple thing as additional childcare can be the trigger for many issues.
One example of the drastic change is childcare on military bases is subsidized. Figures reflect that what costs $60 a week for a military single E-4 person, on base will cost them over $200 in the civilian market. Just one of many issues women face causing additional budget changes.
Women, from the time they are born, face the world with different eyes than males do. They are taught to do different things than males and throughout history have been known as mothers, housekeepers and “little ladies”. Today society has changed their role, but civilian life has not given them the advantage that the knowledge, skills and abilities that the men have been afforded.
The military, on the other hand, has given women training that the civilian world doesn’t expect to see. Women are taught to shoot guns, fight their enemies, and adapt to a warrior’s world and stand up for themselves. As they gain rank, they gain responsibilities over male counterparts not found in the civilian workforce.
They receive the same training in the military as their male counterparts in leadership, combat and survival skills classes. Today this training has strengthened the resolve of women to be equals to the men they worked alongside. It has given them new attitudes and strengths.
The “good old boy” (GOB) system has always been in place and formed attitudes that have restricted the growth into leadership roles for women in military and civilian workforce. While the GOBs are fighting to keep “Control”, the challenges for women are only becoming different because military standards are changing.
The male workplace “management” in the civilian world is not prepared to accept the “attitudes” of the women transitioning from the military. The civilian GOBs of today are fighting to accept these ex-military women into their ranks. Their attitudes compound the challenges of the “new” women in the workplace because of cultural stereotypes.
Women in the military that have “grown through the ranks” develop strong leadership skills and have had to adapt their communication style. Men in the civilian workplace are not prepared to have a woman “speak their mind”. This leads to a higher penalty for their directness and nonconforming attitudes. Women feel they need to change their presentation style to “fit in” which adds additional stresses and physiological issues for the them.
As discussed in other columns, women coming out to the military today have faced many things their predecessors have not. Military women of the past have not been allowed or trained for combat. In the past they were not given leadership “under fire” responsibilities, faced combat situations, witnessed the death of their companions.
It is time their service is recognized, and they are respected for their service equal to that of the men. I am hoping the Deborah Sampson Act will begin the process to make a positive change for all women veterans in the VA system.
Barbara Gilliam is the current Commander of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Tennessee Department of State. Barbara said, “In the past women were told to stay or kept in the background of men. Their voices weren’t important, but women of today are stronger and more independent so their voices should be ringing loudly. However, we are still staying silent while suffering the same tragedies as our male counterparts. I have one thing to say, ‘Women stand up and be heard for your service to this country that was no less than the men’s service!’” You can contact Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-426-7507.
Amy Hines Woody, Women Veteran Representative for the AMVETS Department of Tennessee agrees with Barbara. Amy said, “It is important for the women veterans to receive the same respect male veterans have for making the same sacrifices. This next year I plan on making women veterans a priority agenda for the AMVETS of Tennessee.” I would encourage all women veterans to become involved in our organization and help me with this project.” You can contact Amy at 423-241-5505.
Disabled American Veterans Chapter 102
December 5, 2019 at 6 p.m. – Community Fellowship Drop-in. Everyone welcome. This will be a gathering to bring people of our community to our hall for a time of sharing our upcoming goals and aspirations for the New Year. The event will be held at the hall located at 148 Pine street in Newport. For more information contact Larry at 423-608-9385.
Veterans in Focus:
Pearl Harbor Remembrance: December 7, 2019 at 10 a.m., Cocke County Courthouse. Join Willie Green as he shares his memories of the Pearl Harbor dedication of a granite wall monument displaying all the names of those killed on December 7, 1941 and the beginning of WWII. There will be a presentation of 5 Quilts of Valor and drawing the winners of the two beautiful quilts from the QOV fundraiser.
NEWS OF NOTE:
AMVETS Post 75 – DECEMBER MEETING TIME CHANGE — meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Newport Community Center’s Community Room 433 Prospect Avenue. Because of a holiday dinner the next meeting will START ONE HOUR EARLIER — Tuesday December 3 at 6 p.m. Entry will be through the main entrance at 433 Prospect Avenue. You can call the Commander, Richard Holt, at (423) 608-2902 for directions or more information.
There are numerous churches and organizations wanting to help veterans and their families have a better Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you know of a veteran and or their families in need please contact me as soon as possible. If you have information of an upcoming event that you would like listed or need help with, please contact me. You can use the information at the end of the column. If there is no answer, please leave a message.
Rob Watkins is a totally disabled, Air Force, Vietnam combat veteran. He has worked with Veterans for over 40 years. As a member of local organizations, he continues his path to help others. Please send information, dates for events, two weeks in advance, questions or suggestion; by mail to 565 Caney Creek Road Cosby, TN 37722 or c/o Newport Plain Talk, email; email@example.com, Facebook/View from the Bunker, or call 423-721-8918.