America’s women in the military lay down their lives for our country each day. They undergo extensive training for war, are disciplined in securing our homeland, and painstakingly prepared to make critical decisions in times of uncertainty and crisis. Too often, they return home to encounter new difficulties adjusting to their civilian lives. Women veterans face unique challenges that are distinct from their male counterparts, and without adequate support or resources to help them reintegrate back into daily civilian life.
We all know one—women military veterans are our daughters, sisters, mothers and wives. They have volunteered to put themselves on the line for our nation, and the skills and talents that made them effective in serving our country only increase their value as members of our communities and workforce. Not only should it be our responsibility to help them assimilate into civilian life, it should be our greatest privilege.
Their impact on our workforce cannot be overestimated—women represent 15% of the military and are the fastest growing veteran population. Despite this potential, our nation lacks the tools and programs necessary to meet the unique needs of women veterans. Veterans’ resources in place are mostly designed for men, and often fail to address the issues women returning from the military must strive to overcome.
Last month, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation launched the Inaugural Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit, convening corporate, non-profit, and government leaders—alongside women veterans—to raise awareness and begin seeking meaningful, life-changing solutions that will enable women veterans to become more productive and successful.
This Veterans Day 2010 marks a timely and appropriate opportunity for America to recognize the need for extensive public-private partnerships across all sectors to support this underserved yet most deserving population with the resources that they need and deserve to re-achieve success as civilians.
On this Veteran’s Day, I hope every citizen in our nation takes a moment to reflect on the past and present sacrifices the nation’s armed forces make on our behalf each day. Take a good look around your community, and you will find women, from 22 to 82, who have bravely and unconditionally served our country to keep us and our loved ones safe. Remember their faces. Open your minds and your hearts to their experiences and their challenges. Most importantly, pledge to support our national effort to provide women veterans with the help and support they deserve. They have earned it.
Find out how you can be a part of our movement by following this link http://www.bpwfoundation.org.
Venita Garvin Valdez
Trustee, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation