Previous Page  9 / 32 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 9 / 32 Next Page
Page Background







, S




gives us a personal perspective in understanding that women veterans

have unique needs to help them readjust to a new lifestyle, obtain

vocational and educational training, and sometimes overcoming

emotional trauma.

Women veterans as a group are younger than theirmale counterparts

and more likely than male veterans to face unemployment after their

service.While most women veterans feel their military experience was

positive, some feel the public does not fully recognize the value of

their service and contributions. At VDVS we are working to change

that by ensuring our programs and services meet the needs ofVirginia’s

woman veterans, and by showcasing the leadership skills and talent

that women veterans bring to the civilian workforce.

On June 22 and 23, VDVS, along with many community partners

in the public and private sectors, hosted the 4th Virginia Woman

Veterans Summit. More than 400 women veterans and active service

personnel attended the summit, which featured nationally-recognized

speakers on women veteran issues. Summit attendees also learned

about opportunities available to women vets and shared personal


The motto of the 2017 Summit, held in Chesapeake, was

Achievement, Empowerment & Wellness: Virginia’s Women Veterans

Lead the Way

.” Based on its success, the 5th VirginiaWomen Veterans

Summit is already being planned for next June in Northern Virginia.

Governor Terry McAuliffe and the Virginia General Assembly

have set the goal that Virginia should be the most veteran-friendly state

in America. With their full support, and in conjunction with our public

and private sector partners, we are working to put special emphasis on

our women veterans and to ensure that Virginia is the friendliest state

in the nation for women veterans.

It is our duty to these brave and unselfish women to give them a

direct line of support and to make the Commonwealth a caring, trusted

and safe state where they can live and thrive.

Annie Walker is Director of Veterans Education, Training and

Employment (VETE) Services, one of six directorates under the

Virginia Department of Veterans Services. A former US Army Drill

Sergeant, she ended her military career as the Director for the

Instructor Development Course at the US Army Quartermaster

School Center and School at Fort Lee.

Years ago, there were always some

smart-aleck kids in the neighborhood who

would yell to my daughters, “Your Mom

wears combat boots!” The kids probably

did not even know the origin of the phrase,

and my daughters certainly didn’t. To them,

it made perfect sense that Mom would wear

combat boots—she was a soldier, after all,

and that’s what soldiers do. And today,

even more women wear combat boots, and

flight suits, and mechanics coveralls, and

surgical scrubs…and they are justifiably

proud to do so.

While women have served in the U.S. armed forces throughout

history, various rules and regulations limited their roles, involvement,

and advancement opportunities. Over the past thirty years, the role of

women in the military has dramatically changed. Women now serve in

all service branches and comprise 15% of total active duty, guard, and

reserve forces. Women hold command positions at the highest level of

the armed forces, and that leadership and experience is making a direct

impact in the civilian sector.

Women also serve side-by-side in combat roles with their male

counterparts. Since September 11, 2011, more than 240,000 women

have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 140 have died in

these conflicts.

With so many more women in service, the number of women

veterans is also rising. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the

VA) estimates their numbers will increase by over 300,000 in the next

twenty years, from 1.86 million today to 2.16 million in 2036. Here

in Virginia, we lead the nation with the highest percentage of women

veterans. Of the nearly 730,000 veterans living in the Commonwealth,

more than 100,000 or 14%, are women; that number is forecast to

be over 130,000 in 2036, when women will comprise over 20% of

Virginia’s veterans.

As with all veterans, these women face the challenges of balancing

family life with their service and transitioning to a successful career in

the civilian workplace. I am a veteran, as are many of my colleagues

here at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS). This

Making Sure Virginia Is The Most

Women Veteran Friendly State In The Nation

By Annie Walker, Director, Veterans Education, Training, and Employment (VETE) Services, Virginia Department of Veterans Services

VDVS staff at the Women’s Summit. From left to right: Alison Foster, Charlie Palumbo, Beverly Van Tull, Commissioner John Newby, and Annie Walker.