A lot of people out there may not know this, but this week, February 12th – 18th, is known as “National Salute to Veteran Patients”. The annual event was designed by the Department of Veteran Affairs to increase public awareness of Veterans , as well as the sacrifices they have made for our nation. As part of the week long events, women veterans shared their stories during a Salute to female veterans event. This was of particular importance because while it is true that both men and women have a lot to deal with upon their return from service, women veteran’s issues differ largely from the issues their male counterparts face. Although the number of women in service has greatly increased since women first entered into the military, they find themselves dealing with a lot of issues. It seems fitting that we start our blog at this time and do our part to bring about awareness of Women Veteran’s issues.
“Old Boy’s Club” Mentality
If you have ever traveled and have been to Hartsfield – Jackson Atlanta International Airport then you are well aware that it is a major international hub and there are always a lot of people traveling in and out of it. As such, it is not surprising to see servicemen and women catching flights either to their place of deployment or back home. Last year, I was taking a flight to Los Angeles and I had a layover in Atlanta. While waiting for my flight, I noticed some soldiers sitting at the gate across from me. There was a group of four male soldiers sitting together in one section and not far off there were two more soldiers, both female. I must admit, I’m a bit of a people watcher and as I watched I observed something very interesting.
During the span of my 40 minute wait, I counted more than 10 people who had stopped and thanked the male soldiers for their service. I say male soldiers because although the female soldiers were sitting only a couple of chairs down and towards the front like the men, no one bothered to stop and thank them. As I boarded my plane, I could not stop thinking about what I had observed. Both the men and women were dressed in their uniforms, which consisted of fatigues, so why was it that the men were approached while the women received no praise? For a moment, I considered that maybe it was just a case of men being more comfortable engaging and praising other men, but then I remembered that at least two out of the 10 had been women.
Sadly enough, the scene I was privy may not be all that surprising to any women veterans who read this. Although times have changed and women’s rights and the expectations of what they are capable of have expanded, women are still facing the old biases and discriminations that come with being a woman in the military. At the end of the day, women are still working hard to prove that they are are capable of serving. This is something that they deal with not only while they are in service, but also when they are done with their service.Whether it be from their male counterparts, while in and out of service, or from the general public women are still finding very little in the way of support and praise. In fact, women veterans quite often come home to find themselves struggling with a system that all too often unwelcoming and unresponsive to their needs.
Heart of a Fighter is an organization dedicated to helping women veterans find their voice once more by helping women veterans start their own businesses. This helps to alleviate the financial difficulties they face upon reintegration, as well as creates a sense of empowerment that may be lacking upon their reintegration.We want to open up the lines of discussion not merely for the sake of discussion, but in order to find and implement solutions that will prove effective in dealing with all the issues that women veterans have to deal with upon their return from service. This blog is one part of helping to bring about awareness and opening up those lines of communication. Follow us as we shed light on the the various issues women veterans have been dealing with such as: insufficient health care and support, difficulties gaining employment and homelessness just to name a few. In addition, we will also keep you up to date on our progress as we work to help 100 women veterans start their own businesses. We ask that you join the conversation and share with other women veterans. Together we can create the type of system women veterans need.
This blog is not about sitting back and complaining about the unjust way in which women veterans are being treated. It is about providing awareness on issues that should not just be of concern to women veterans or even just women, but to all people. I have always been of the belief that no matter how small or big your role in something is, it is still of importance to the whole. As such, the role of a woman veteran who may have served as a field nurse is no less important than the man who served on the front line. Everyone is equally deserving of the respect, care, and support that they have earned by serving their country. Women veterans are not asking for preferential treatment… they are merely asking for the care and support that they deserve.