Return to flip book view

AVOW Magazine Fall 2019

Page 1


Page 2

Empowering Women Veterans To create a community to Equip Empower Encourage each other with knowledge resoures mentorship and career opportunities for women that have served our country to discover fulfill their greatest potential www WomenVeteransAlliance com Committed to raising funds to provide women veterans scholarships for conferences including the Unconference yearly small business award www WomenVeteransGiving com FOUNDED AND LED BY WOMEN VETERANS

Page 3

AMERICAN VETERAN ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN MAGAZINE AVOW Magazine has launched and we hope you have enjoyed the first issue as much as we have enjoyed beginning our journey toward building relationships with and amplifying the experiences of our Service Sisters We are a magazine for American women veterans by American women veterans if that s you we want to hear from you if that is your mother grandmother daughter aunt niece or cousin let s get them involved in the discussion We choose to uplift the ideal that our military service has strengthened us and while our time in service may not be the definition of who we are that time is an integral and complementary aspect of the complex engaging artistic lively and vocal women we amplify in our articles In this issue we touch on healthcare and while there is enough space here to write volumes we hope to widen the conversation of how we take measured steps to get to where we want to be a place where every servicewoman receives the very best care she deserves My own personal example follows On September 10 2019 I attended a Military Sexual Trauma MST focus group for women veterans at Lehigh Valley Hospital to discuss our experiences and how the private health sector can assist women veterans with MST access the care we deserve Of the five highly anticipated guests three showed up in total there were four women veterans voices representing an approximate population of 841 913 perhaps 10 of which are female veterans Yes ladies four voices represented possibly 8 000 or more women Never think your voice doesn t matter we must be willing to speak our truth or someone else will We also must encourage each other to choose visibility Yes being visible makes us vulnerable at the same time we cannot hear the other voices in harmony with our own if nobody chooses to speak from the shadows In order to find each other we must be willing ourselves to be seen Where are the servicewomen in our communities When was the last time we reached across the years to the women we served with to collaborate on projects to strengthen that bond of service with our peers or to elicit and encourage mentorships of the next generation Let s continue to step out of the shadows lift each other s voices and uphold our sisterhood by creating the spaces and establishing our presence in those places we wish to see women veterans fulfill Welcome to our second issue now let s get the conversation started Sheila L Holmes Editor In Chief AVOW Magazine Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 3

Page 4

content FALL 2019 24 12 34 16 4 FEATURES ON THE COVER Finally She s here Meet our newest soldier Visibility It begins with seeing the value of your own service Unconference A little history about this one of a kind women veterans conference 8 DEPARTMENTS MILITARY Military Spotlight JoAnn Ortloff 30 Women Veteran License Plates across the nation 32 Military Resources Cut me out for quick reference 36 Husbands in the Legion Where is a man s place LinkedIn Information and Tips Tricks Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 5

10 ART CULTURE HISTORY LIVING Stepping Back from the Edge 20 Healthcare Beyond the VA 40 My Business Saved My Life 42 Have you Ghosted the VA 36 33 EXTRAS Veteran Discounts Arts Crafts Military Humor Sit back and tickle your funny bone AMERICAN VETERAN ORGANIZATION OF WOMEN MAGAZINE Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 5

Page 6

AVOWMagazine com Christina Wilkinson USAF PUBLISHER Sheila L Holmes USAF EDITOR IN CHIEF Erin Trower USAF EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Melissa Washington USN Genevieve Chase USA VR Small USN SPECIAL ADVISORS A magazine for women veterans by women veterans and for the people who love them Copyright 2019 by AVOW Magazine All rights reserved Contributors JoAnn Ortloff USN LaQuista Erinna USA Rolande S Sumner USA Danielle Johnson USMC Katie Dwyer USMC Photography Sheila L Holmes Fitz Cahall Magdalena Wosinska Rawpixel com Omkar Patyane Pixabay Nacho Ju rez Deeana Garcia Trinity CREATIVE TEAM SabreDesign com ART DIRECTION DESIGN LAYOUT The name AVOW and the AVOW logo are trademarks of AVOW Magazine exclusively for the American Veterans Organization of Women Magazine which is published quarterly for women veterans of the United States of America No part of this publication may be reproduced distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means including photocopying recording or other electronic or mechanical methods without the prior written permission of the publisher or in some instances with third party copyright holders For permission requests write to the publisher addressed Attention Permissions Coordinator at the address below Sabre Design Publishing 18737 Back Street 605 Groveland CA 95321 www sabredesign com Proudly published and produced in the United States of America Social Media Facebook com AVOWMagazine O 209 962 0613 Sabre Design F 800 680 6217 E contact AVOWMagazine com 6 Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 7

CONNECTING YOU IS WHAT WE DO Helping women veteran owned businesses WVOBs scale for success Establishing strategic alliances and leveraging public private sector opportunities advocating for relevant research services and funding while simultaneously providing on site the personal and professional resources needed to succeed Veteran Women s Enterprise Center 4900 South Lancaster Rd Dallas TX 75216 veteranwomensec org 214 489 7984

Page 8

JoAnn and her husband Rich have been married 35 years 8 Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 9

MILITARY SPOTLIGHT FLEET MASTER CHIEF AW SW JOANN MARIE ORTLOFF Ret JoAnn Ortloff retired in 2015 and now volunteers for organizations benefiting those still serving including an appointment to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services DACOWITS and as an Ambassador for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Fleet Master Chief AW SW JoAnn Marie Ortloff joined the Navy in 1982 After she completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Orlando Florida and meritoriously advanced to E 2 she continued to Air Traffic Control A School in Millington Tennessee Her early tours as an Air Traffic Controller included Naval Outlying Landing Field San Nicholas Island California Naval Air Station Point Mugu California Fleet Area and Control Surveillance Facility Hawaii Naval Outlying Landing Field San Clemente Island California Naval Air Station Lemoore California and Naval Base Coronado California Aboard the USS John C Stennis CVN 74 she was the OC Division Leading Chief and Carrier Air Traffic Control Supervisor After advancing to Senior Chief she was appointed as ship s Section Leader and the Training Department Leading Chief Selected to the Command Master Chief program in 2003 she first served as Command Master Chief USS MILIUS DDG 69 February 2004 January 2007 After a successful WESTPAC deployment in 2005 and several Fleet wide recognition events she accepted orders to U S Naval Hospital Guam in June 2007 During this tour her team earned numerous command awards and she joined leadership in the development of the WESTPAC Medical Alliance between Naval Hospitals Guam Yokosuka and Okinawa Japan expanding critical healthcare capabilities in the Pacific She served as Command Master Chief U S Third Fleet 2009 2012 and completed her 33 year naval career as the U S Naval Forces Europe and Africa Fleet Master Chief from May 2012 to April 2015 Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 Her senior leader engagements included linking various nations senior enlisted leaders by bridging communications and exercise relationships assisting Sailors in preparation for overseas deployments and return co designing the Fleet CPO Training initiative leading the evolution of the enlisted advancement final multiple score providing the early research for the Navy s current bystander intervention training and establishing a progressive leadership training program to African and European Partner Nation navies that enhanced at sea capabilities and NATO opportunities Today she and her husband volunteer in the community provide travel advice for military and civilian enthusiasts and speak around the world on leadership and life in the military She is currently working on her first book about growing up in the Navy MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS Legion of Merit Meritorious Service Medal 2 awards Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal 3 awards Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal 4 awards Good Conduct Medal 9 awards Humanitarian Service Medal Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS 2000 Captain Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award recipient 2002 Graduate of the Senior Enlisted Academy Class 100 Blue 2004 Command Master Chief Chief of the Boat Course Class 5 2008 Six Sigma Greenbelt 2008 KEYSTONE Senior Enlisted Leadership Course 2009 Executive Medical Department Enlisted Course 2014 Co Host for the USO Naples Got Talent show 2016 President Enlisted Leadership Foundation 2015 2018 2019 Live radio interview host for the Surface Navy Association 9

Page 10

STEPPING BACK FROM THE EDGE When I returned from deployment in 2013 I wanted to get as far away from people as possible I wanted nothing to do with traffic crowds societal courtesies or really anyone M y dream was and still is to move to a very remote location so far off any main roads that I couldn t hear a neighbor s dog bark and no one would come to visit me I didn t want anyone to speak to me or expect a response I warned people I wasn t safe for public consumption as a way to let them know that I didn t give a rat s if I offended anyone when forced to converse I ached for solitude and for what I know now as an ever elusive sense of peace I wasn t sure was possible to find Forcing myself back into society unraveled me each time I returned from deployment I had an intimate understanding of why the veterans suicide rate was high Following the first tour I fought suicidal urges by throwing myself into veterans advocacy and founding a national level nonprofit organization American Women Veterans A sense of purpose and a passion for my work seemed the cure I thought I had all the answers but then I 10 returned from my last deployment in 2013 with far better resources available to us than in 2006 For months the urge to kill myself wasn t an isolated incident it was an ever present need The only time I felt any release from that yearning was when I finally decided to give in to the urge I thought about my family friends the nonprofit organization and even all of the people my death would impact I felt guilty about what it would mean but I also thought my suicide would be the best thing for my organization it might finally receive the support and funding it needed Despite all the thoughts to the contrary I ached for peace I was in so much mental and emotional pain for months on end Nothing I tried with all the resources available to me worked except the decision to finally end it all I decided to tie up loose strings before tapping out and in the beginning of 2014 I set a date for August Using a free airline voucher I got on the way to pre mobilization I laid out PHOTO BY FITZ CAHALL BY GENEVIEVE CHASE how I would walk off into the Tetons to finally find my final solitude and peace In war I d had the most life affirming experiences a car packed with explosives hit our truck in Helmand in 2006 in 2013 my team and I lay in the dirt as near daily rockets rained down on us at Forward Operating Base Shank but nothing back home made me want to live Every thing every situation and every person annoyed me except my military buddies I resented it all society s mindless materialism the superficiality of our culture every image and commercial on T V Every time I heard a person complain about something trivial I wanted to grab them by their collar and make them bleed I could ve made them understand is I could have downloaded images and experiences from my brain to theirs I wanted everyone to hurt the way I hurt I wanted to rage at the fates for not being able to stop the same hurt in everyone I served with With nowhere Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 11

Genevieve Chase is the founder of American Women Veterans and serves in the Army Reserve intelligence field works in the defense industry is a life professional coach and travels the country inspiring others through speaking engagements She served in Afghanistan where she received a Purple Heart Combat Action Badge and Bronze Star Medal She was inducted into the US Army Women s Hall of Fame in 2016 and was recognized by L Oreal as a 2018 National Women of Worth Honoree Chase currently lives in the mountains of Idaho with her two dogs Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 MAGDALENA WOSINSKA perience the other two During the months that home My connection to that wild land impactfollowed a series of events happened that would ed how I viewed myself my place in this world forever change me but despite everything I and the connection I have to Planet Earth The thought about ending my life on a daily basis Refuge is a national treasure that like Yosemite It wasn t until the summer of 2015 that I fi and the Grand Canyon It represents in geogranally felt I had truly made it home from war phy the ideals of freedom and posterity we swore Imagine a place untouched by development an oath to uphold and defend when we joined teeming with wildlife and everywhere you look the military there exists a preternatural beauty in the land If you are contemplating suicide I know it and streams that run through it Try to picture seems as though there is no other choice I used if you can to think I would never If I had to come up with an answer a place again be free of that w h e r e about my path to self discovery desire People I talked brutality with said they d battled is surviv I would say nature spirituality and it their entire lives and al rather community it was a daily fight to than inhustay here I am alive tomanity and where no living thing even in the day to tell you that doesn t have to be true If you throes of death has any self pity so choose you can set yourself free of that seemThese places exist and one of them is the ingly ever present darkness but you have to take Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern the first step and choose to be free of it Alaska Refuge is defined as a place of being Today I live in an amazing place surroundsafe or sheltered from pursuit danger or trou ed by a loving community and the inescapable ble That was exactly where I needed to be and beauty of nature There are armies of people where I found myself Over a year of unredeem out there who want to help and that have come able agony somehow led me to the shadows of together to form great organizations resources the legendary Brooks Range there casting a fly and communities There is no single fix all and into the currents of the Kongakut River pacing I don t have all the answers but I know that we the tundra of Alaska and skinny dipping into the have to keep trying different outlets until we icy waters at the Arctic Circle with a cast of char find what works for us acters that no one would believe I know The Touring the country and speaking to auRefuge is one of the few places I ve ever been that diences about this has given me the unique is a true refuge There are no roads power lines perspective to hear the stories of others Many or pollution It s a public land one of the last of us have found peace in nature and I believe places on Earth where we can get away from ev nature is the doorway through which we may eryone and everything It is the place where trou access our core nature bles don t matter nightmares cannot haunt us If you find yourself close to the edge please and there are no labels that define us With social seek help and choose life identities gone all that is left is our connection to the ground beneath our feet and the air we breathe It was there that fissures started to form in my armor of self hatred Something shifted in my self loathing veneer when I visited the Arctic Refuge It was there in the great land of Alaska that I knew I was truly PHOTO BY PIXABAY for the guilt shame rage and pain to go I turned it inward Many have asked me how I spent months suicidal and yet survived Everyone wants to know what the antidote is to death s siren song I don t have it There is no one size fits all solution to stop the yearning to kill yourself There was no single defining moment I can recall except the one where I decided to put it off until I d tied up loose ends but a series of experiences where everything I saw around me and felt through my body was heightened Some would say I lost the mental capacity to care for myself or make my own decisions but most that knew me during this time would say otherwise No one had any idea and those I told didn t think I was serious I began to honor every suicide I heard about by saying a prayer that ended At least he she is not in pain anymore It was also something I wrote in my suicide letter to my family Please know I am not in pain anymore If I have to come up with an answer about my path to self discovery I would say nature spirituality and community but nature was the only doorway through which I was able to ex 11

Page 12

VISIBILIT Y IT BEGINS WITH SEEING THE VALUE OF YOUR OWN SERVICE BY SHEILA L HOLMES Claudette Williams Women Veterans and Military Family Services I This photo of Andrea Y Motley Crabtree the first female Army deep sea diver is in the collection of artifacts in the museum 12 had the opportunity to chat briefly with Claudette Williams at the Wings of Freedom celebration event designed for women who have overcome obstacles It was there where she was awarded the first Blue Wings of Freedom award for her impact on her community Of all the women showcased in the event brochure I was most interested in connecting with her just one small thing she had been a Sgt Major and I had been a Senior Airman Yes I was nervous In her own words she encourages women to Take ownership of their power within know their purpose and function and just fly with whatever their idea is that comes to mind Our brief conversation at the event contained my congratulations for her award and museum opening and short pitch about AVOW a brand new women veteran s magazine slated to drop online three days later When she asked about the concept I mentioned that I d been personally challenged in accepting my service time as valued had just recently started using the Veterans Health Administration VA had been having difficulties fitting in with veteran s organizations and how a fellow Air Force veteran and friend of mine and I had recently decided to create our own space Her first comment was You earned Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 13

The officers of Gladys Watkins Post 550 Claudette Williams left and Donna Shannon this it doesn t matter how many years you served You know that right Within a one minute exchange she d figured me out I lacked confidence at the same time I deserved to be recognized I scribbled our business name on a piece of paper along with my name and number and she was off to her museum opening While I was excited when she contacted AVOW to collaborate within a couple weeks I spent quite a bit of time on vacation thinking about events between the Philadelphia Town Hall nearly a year ago that pivoted me back into utilizing the VA and about that exchange I find myself repeating that I d never seen any of these women I feel as if I never knew so many servicewomen even existed There s just no visibility with Claudette She knew How did she have the confidence and why was I still struggling I contacted her while on vacation to set up a time when I returned to see her museum I needed to connect with something other women who d served women who immediately grasped each other s value Where were they She graciously set her schedule around mine and my arrival time As I pulled around the back of the Women Veterans and Military Family Services building on the bike I d just put over 5 000 miles on I spied the flags each one honoring each branch and as she explained later the Marines being before the Navy because the Navy was deactivated for a short time Two smiling heads popped out of Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 One of the many posters on display at the Women Veterans and Military Family Services Museum 13

Page 14

Sheila L Holmes and Claudette Williams the door as my husband and I removed our gear I took some deep breaths to prepare myself to meet this woman who had served as a Sergeant Major both overseas and in a combat zone was a mother of four an award winner and a military veteran who had also founded her own women veterans museum I had to straighten up gather my bearing get the road washed off me a bit and proceed and then was somehow immediately disarmed with a sense of welcome I hadn t quite prepared myself for Donna Shannon Claudette s long time friend and employee showed me the Wall of Honor she d been working on with local servicewomen where Claudette s photo was placed alongside an image of Andrea Y Motley Crabtree who was the first female Army deep sea diver a stunning image of Citadel s Class of 2019 the largest graduating group of African American women at a full 10 of the class and an image of Air Force 1st Lt Heather Penney the F16 alert pilot tasked on 09 11 with ramming her plane into United Flight 93 as a last resort to prevent the flight from being used as a weapon I began to see how these two women work to bring visibility to other 14 Artwork mementos and artifacts of military women servicewomen I d seen none of these images when I d served or in the decades since I d ghosted from the military community Claudette and Donna offered us a cool drink as they strolled through the museum with us and explained different images clothing items and artifacts from women and the families who supported them in service and beyond I wasn t just in awe of the collection Claudette and her team had collated but by the easy manner with which she and Donna engaged and educated us about women s visibility in the service When I asked Claudette how long it took her to obtain these items presuming decades she quipped Since January I was stunned She shared that while she sat with a group of women at a Sgt Major convention they were presumed to be the wives It was then she knew military women needed more visibility A short six months later her museum and service center opened What this meant to me was that our communities do see us in their families they want to share our stories they do honor us The proof is in the very items showcased here that the communities have spent time preserving in their homes and have so generously shared for public display Each time my eyes catch a new item a challenge coin similar to one I d long forgotten I owned a campaign item I d stopped associating myself with Claudette complements the connection with small facts about the item When I take a closer look at an image of a group of women she explains how the women were a group of Army and Navy nurses who started their own American Legion post in Scranton Pennsylvania naming it after Gladys Watkins All of the officers of Gladys Watkins Post 550 were women as were all of the members of the post I find myself repeating that I d never seen any of these women I feel as if I never knew so many servicewomen even existed There s just no visibility This is when Claudette asks if I saw the banner What banner I ask She mentioned the Hometown Heroes banners These are banners that many towns place with a veteran service members images and sometimes the branch and service dates on them I m flabbergasted Not only did I presume all of the veterans on these images had passed on but I ve never seen Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 15

Uniforms worn by different women a bunk footlockers some from Sgt Major Williams own collection a woman on one and I just finished riding a motorcycle through 4 000 miles of towns across the United States from Philadelphia to Montana and back We begin to talk about the military family services portion of the museum Claudette and her team work to engage veterans and their families to ensure they have access to all the benefits available to them She advocates not only for women to obtain their own benefits but she acknowledges the sacrifices our families made while we served including her own children when she was called to active duty after 9 11 and works to connect both women veterans and their families with resources As my husband and I prepare to leave for home after our long trip Claudette gifts me a book The Liberation of Kuwait Honoring the Veterans of Desert Storm from the time period leading up to my enlistment Only now as I write this piece do I see she signed the book thanking me for my own service and I see that she kept her museum open for two hours after her normal schedule on a weekend in which she d posted she d be closed in order to Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 accommodate my schedule Claudette Williams personifies uplifting women women veterans and their families If you are ever in PA I highly encourage a visit to the Women Veterans and Military Family Services Museum located at 4 Fork Street Mt Pocono Pennsylvania 18344 Seeing other women s service items was a clear reminder that I must continue to challenge myself to speak out uplift and amplify our voices People are waiting to hear our stories I found was waiting to see the rest of Claudette s visible story I returned a few weeks later to find the Hometown Heroes banner Claudette previously mentioned When I asked her to show me she thought I meant all the banners I don t think she realized I needed to see what a woman veteran looked like up there Once I saw it flying as beautiful and patriotic as each and every other service member who is honored by someone who loves them I see how important visibility can be I will research our township rules I know several women who could grace that sky Claudette s Banner Flying in the Mt Pocono Sky Mt Pocono Honoring Veterans Banners hanging along the streets showing their pride in their home grown heroes 15

Page 16

16 PHOTO BY OMKAR PATYANE Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 17

LinkedIn Information and Tips Tricks BY MELISSA WASHINGTON LinkedIn is a social media platform geared to professionals It enables you to network and to build your professional portfolio but you can also go out into the world and look for a new job I n today s world having on an online presence is essential The best place to start is on LinkedIn the number one online professional network The platform provides the ability to build your personal online brand connect and stay connected with people look for a new job find new business opportunities and network As you make those moves from duty station to duty station or transition out of the military looking for new opportunities your LinkedIn profile goes with you so make sure to update your LinkedIn profile The more comprehensive your profile is the more qualified you will appear to people who view it as a lot of times this their first impression of you Here is how you can you stand out amongst the 575 million members on LinkedIn and start building your online brand To create an account go to www LinkedIn com and also download the app on your phone Facebook com AVOWMagazine Once you are logged on to your account 1 Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage 2 Click View profile From here you can make updates to your profile by clicking on the pencil at the top section to the right A new window will pop up to give you the opportunity to edit the introduction card on your profile This is a key piece on your profile as this is the content that people viewing your profile will first see displayed at the top 1 Profile Photo Current professional photo of you Use a photo in which you are dressed in the attire for the job you want not in military uniform 2 Background Photo This is the photo that appears behind your photo Have some fun with it but not Facebook fun the image should reflect your brand 3 Headline This is the headline that appears below your photo It is not your job title but your tag line When creating this headline consider what you would put on a billboard if you were given 120 characters to brand yourself Lead with your strengths and not your weakness 4 Current Position Convey your successes Translate military lingo to civilian terminology Make sure to add specific keywords such as veteran and military Add volunteer work board of directors and nonprofit work Remember that LinkedIn does not spell check 5 Education List school and educational information 17

Page 18

Always customize the message that you send when making connection requests It is important to take the time to Add Note to your connection requests Why 1 It keeps the human aspect in your request 2 It gives you the opportunity to share information about yourself 3 If you are looking for work let them know Be specific about the type of work you are seeking so can avoid opportunities that are of no interest to you This is why it s important to be clear about what you want to do and to develop a personal brand 4 Share why you want to connect with them 5 This will make you stand out amongst the other messages that are received PHOTO BY RAWPIXEL COM Best Practice If you mistakenly have connected with someone and want to vote them off your island you can easily remove them 1 Click the My Network icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage 2 On the left side of the page click on Connections This page will bring up the list of all your connections 3 Type the name of the one you want to remove in the Search by name box 4 When their name appears in the list click the three dots to the right of their name and Remove connection They will not be notified that you have removed them In addition to connecting with people you can follow companies and find out more information about that particular company You can explore different companies on LinkedIn by using the search bar at the top to type in the company name On the company page you can view Jobs Images Updates and Employees 1st 2nd and 3rd degree connection Follow companies that you are specifically interested in working for such as current employer past employers clients vendors and other companies of interest This will allow you to receive key updates as they are posted You can follow up to 1 000 companies On the page of the company you want to follow look to the right where there are three square dots Click on these dots and then click on Follow 18 6 Location LinkedIn works with geographical areas so add your zip code You can then choose to include your specific city or greater metropolitan area on your profile 7 Industry Choose the primary industry in which you are interested in 8 Contact Info Add information you feel comfortable sharing 9 Summary Not only provide a story that people will remember you by but share what you can and want to do for them Other sections to add content to Certifications Licenses Clearances Courses Honors Awards Languages Patents Publications Test Scores and More To add these click on Add profile section Now that your profile is complete the next step is to build your network Start with people you know and trust such as colleagues customers people you served with vendors and even family These are the people that you are going to want to connect with on LinkedIn A few ways to do this 1 Use the search bar to type in names of people you may know When the person you want appears in the search list click on his or her name and then click on connect before you do this read my Best Practice to the left 2 LinkedIn easily allows you to import contacts from e mail acFall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 19

counts Go to the My Network icon on the top of your homepage On this page in the left column you will see Add Personal Contacts Add your email address and click on Continue Then follow the additional instructions 3 People you may know Remember these are networkgenerated possibilities so you may or may not know these people These can be found in My Network 4 When you first meet someone ask if you can connect with them on LinkedIn Then go on to the LinkedIn App on your phone and immediately connect FREE Access for 1 year LinkedIn offers eligible service members veterans spouses and caregiver LinkedIn members 1 year of free access to LinkedIn Premium and LinkedIn Learning Platform Go to veterans linkedin com A great group to check out on LinkedIn is the Veteran Mentor Network Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 Melissa A Washington is a Navy Veteran Marine Corps Wife LinkedIn Maven CEO and Founder of Women Veterans Alliance AVOW Magazine Special Advisor and Author of Get Back to Work Smart Savvy Real World Strategies to Make Your Next Career Move She has been on LinkedIn since 2004 and worked there for four years doing Global Corporate Meeting Planning 19

Page 20

Healthcare Beyond the VA BY LAQUISTA ERINNA DBH LCSW W omen have always played an integral role in the United States military Dating back to the American Revolution women have supported and served alongside their male counterparts It wasn t until 1901 that women were officially allowed to serve as part of the military as members of the newly created Army s Nurse Corps Throughout the years the number of both active duty women service members and honorably discharged veterans has expeditiously increased Today there are more than two million women veterans making them the fastest growing veteran population VetPop Data and US Veterans Eligibility Trends Statistics USVETS estimates there will be a 16 percent increase in women veterans by 2040 With the increase of women veterans entering into the population both the Department of Veterans Affairs DVA and civilian providers will need to adapt to women veterans needs Since the late 1990s and early 2000s the DVA has increased outreach to women veterans Some programs included special allocations of funds for homeless women veterans sexual trauma counseling and providing prenatal and obstetrical care The DVA had hoped to encourage women veterans to utilize their Veterans Administration Medical Center VAMC and while there are many excellent opportunities to seek treatment at a VA facility this may not always be a feasible option One of the most common obstacles transitioning servicemembers and veterans encounter is isolation from the military community Reserve and National Guard servicemembers make up a majority of the veteran population These individuals are usually not near a military installation and VAMCs are not easily assessible PHOTO BY PIXABAY

Page 21

Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 PHOTO BY RAWPIXEL COM Women veterans have unique needs and challenges when it comes to their healthcare One of the greatest complaints with VAMC is obtaining timely appointments Experiencing gynecological or mental health problems and then waiting over 30 days for an appointment is an additional stressor that shouldn t be experienced in a developed country Women veterans also worry about setting up childcare taking time away from work and navigating a huge medical system There are countless stories of mishaps by the DVA complaints about the VA are too numerous to list completely but a summary of these grievances includes the VA s mishandling of billing disputes for service connected conditions the inability of VA providers to fill out mandatory forms for those who still serve and the lack of specialized care for unique injuries Mental health and wellness of the veteran population is an ever growing concern Every year 1 in 5 adults in the general population experience mental illness Unlike their male counterparts women veterans are twice as likely to experience depression or generalized anxiety 1 In 2015 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD accounted for approximately 12 percent of all service connected disabilities for women veterans while major depressive disorders were slightly over six percent 2 On the other end of the spectrum there are women veterans like Jacare Hogan Ret United States Army Reserve who prefer VA and military providers over civilian providers I am going to a civilian provider because here at Fort Benning they don t have enough providers for retirees I feel more comfortable on post I don t feel crazy and feel like I am being judged unfairly There are simply not enough qualified civilian providers who understand our unusual circumstances I am working with the DAV to help change so many issues in this broken mental health system It took me three years to find a qualified civilian provider says Hogan Hogan s complaint raises a valid question How are civilian providers able to meet the unique needs of women veterans who show up in their offices when they don t know military lifestyle As Hogan stated a basic understanding of military culture is essential to building rapport with these clients Civilian institutions are trying to find a solution The University of Southern California created a specialized social work program that prepares future practitioners by offering a military social work option for students These students are able to learn about military culture and how to address servicemembers needs State licensing boards such as Connecticut State Department of Public Health have implemented requirements for mental health licensees such as psychologists social workers counselors and marriage and family therapists to have at least two contact hours of continuing education dealing with mental health conditions common to veterans Although it s not nearly enough it is a start Without specialized training to understand military culture many civilians assume most veterans especially those who have seen combat have experienced major trauma therefore civilian providers who desire to work with veterans must consider when to implement a trauma informed care approach One of the key lessons for providers is to have the veteran be a part of her own treatment Giving back that power to the veteran for her to decide on what treatment will work best for her is empowering Clients are more likely to be engaged in their treatment when they feel as though they have a voice For millions of women veterans it is important to know that there are options for quality healthcare Whether it s convenience finances or personal preference that motivates her choice there are options All providers both civilian and VA must do their part to be competent and compassionate practitioners Women veterans should utilize their earned benefits to ensure overall wellness mind body and soul SOURCES 1 U S Veterans by Gender 2018 Statista static3 statista com statistics 250271 us veterans by gender fbclid IwAR0sj5TMbTTjDCg8tRGEI12OQ78dqDUCHUE54FEJg61gvW7yfS0a1cGeOnI 2 Women Veterans Report Department of Veteran Affairs Feb 2017 www va gov vetdata docs SpecialReports Women_Veterans_2015_Final pdf Dr LaQuista Erinna is a licensed psychotherapist bestselling author and motivational speaker After returning from her second deployment to Iraq Dr Erinna became increasing concerned with the many challenges service members faced upon reintegration into their civilian lives Through her unique experience s as a U S Army soldier and military spouse Dr Erinna naturally connects with and understands military communities She is an advocate for mental wellness and passionate about eliminating mental health stigma in the United States 21

Page 22

Arts Crafts Discounts AC Moore 15 Discount Women and men who have served and are serving our country may present their military ID and receive 15 OFF the entire sale and regular price purchases every time they shop with AC Moore Discount cannot be combined with student and teacher discounts or A C Moore Total Purchase coupons Not valid with any other discounts previous purchases Doorbusters clearance blue red or green label items Not valid on purchase of gift cards Dremel tools Cricut machines Luminara candles Home Essentials frames Photo Create Print Shop products Elf on the Shelf custom framing custom floral arranging classroom fees membership fees magazines or online purchases Not valid at our A C Moore Outlet or liquidation store locations Exclusions subject to change acmoore com military discount Home Depot 10 Discount Active duty military members can save 10 off their purchase using a Home Depot military discount Customers can redeem this discount in store by presenting a valid military ID to the cashier at checkout Restrictions may apply Not all Home Depots honor the same ID so call your neighborhood store in advance Apply online at shop id me storefronts 2465 home depot military PHOTO BY DEEANA GARCIA JoAnn Fabric 15 Discount enroll online 22 15 discount every day on every purchase Digital discount card valid in store online Exclusions apply www joann com military discount Lowes 10 Discount sign up online 10 off eligible purchases every day to active military personnel and veterans Lowe s uses a trusted third party to verify eligibility status for online enrollment and may require additional documentation or proof of eligibility Exclusions apply www lowes com mylowes register context military Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 23

While we have checked the validity of each of these offers just prior to publishing we recommend that you the consumer contact a business prior to obtaining a discount We are not responsible for errors in company offers McCoy s Building Supply 10 Discount McCoy s offers active duty and retired veterans 10 military discount to qualified recipients year round Twice a year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day McCoys offers an extended military discount to veterans regardless of their length of service Both discounts have a maximum limit of 500 per transaction as well as a daily discount limit of 500 www mccoys com military Michaels 15 Discount Michaels offers you and your immediate family this special discount every day Your service to our country means so much 15 off the entire purchase including sale items every day In store only Must show valid ID Includes sale items Exclusions apply See Team Member for details www michaels com military discount article military html Sherwin Williams 15 Discount 15 discount on paints stains and painting supplies to men and women who are currently serving are reservists or have served in the military This 15 off Military Discount is also extended to the spouse of such individuals Be able to provide an ID at the time of purchase to validate military service www sherwin williams com homeowners special offers military The Yankee Candle 10 Discount 10 military discount for active and retired military every day on every purchase Discount can be combined with any other in store or coupon discount All active and retired members of the military plus their immediate family are also eligible Present any valid form of military identification to the cashier at checkout www yankeecandle com customer service military discount 2 14 Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 23

Page 24

FINALLY BY SHEILA L HOLMES and CHRISTINA WILKINSON AND SHE HAS A NAME DISCLAIMER The depiction of the new toy as shown on the front cover will not be sold as a left handed figurine 24 Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 25

WERE YOU THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH THE GREEN TOY SOLDIERS BECAUSE YOU WANTED TO EMULATE THE SOLDIER OR WERE YOU THE GIRL WHO CRUSHED THE MINI ARMY WITH YOUR GIANT BARBIE DOLLS BY NOW MANY OF US HAVE HEARD WE MAY SEE WOMEN TOY SOLDIERS IN OUR OWN LIFETIME AND WE ARE BEYOND EXCITED WITH THE NEWS OF NOT MERELY ANOTHER PINKED TOY BUT FOR A TRUE RENDITION OF A FEMALE SOLDIER BROUGHT ABOUT BY A COLLECTION OF EFFORTS BETWEEN A DETERMINED SIX YEAR OLD ADVOCATE NAMED VIVIAN THE EFFORT ONE OF OUR VERY OWN SOLDIER SISTERS JOANN ORTLOFF FLEET MASTER CHIEF RETIRED U S NAVY AND JEFF IMEL OF BMC TOYS WHO HAS WORKED TOWARD CREATING THIS NECESSARY REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN THE MILITARY WORKFORCE W e reached out to Jeff Imel President VictoryBuy Inc BMC Toys via email and he was kind enough to share his experience with us in detail Jeff recounted how he began dabbling in eCommerce in the late 1990s and has been a full time internet retailer since 2002 I started offering plastic army men sometime around 2003 and over the years a handful of customers asked if I had any female soldier figures Eventually this prompted me to research if there were any female toy soldiers on the market but I never found anything I could offer to those customers At that time I was purchasing product wholesale and the prospect of creating a brand new product wasn t feasible In 2011 I began working with the current owner of the Tim Mee Toys brand and I commissioned new production of the classic Tim Mee plastic army men that had been a staple on store shelves from about 1969 through 2005 Working directly with a factory inspired me to think on a grander scale and I began delving into product development such as choosing colors materials and packaging style In 2012 I added a second color assortment of the Tim Mee Army Men gray and red and while researching what colors I might add next I decided to offer them in pink The subject of the pink army men has come up a lot during the course of the Plastic Army Women project Jeff then explained how those pink army men came to be PHOTOS PROVIDED BY BMC TOYS Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 Several years ago I received a wholesale shipment of tan green soldiers but the tan soldiers had a pinkish tint I was furious and complained to the supplier but they didn t care so I was stuck with them I decided to sell them anyway describing them as pinkish tan and green I don t know why but they sold much better than when I had previously sold an earlier non pinkish batch as tan green While researching the history of the Tim Mee 25

Page 26

26 Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 27

plastic army men I learned these soldier figures were briefly produced in bright blue yellow and pink in the early 1970s This was supposedly in response to the drop in the popularity of military themed toys at the time I also discovered that the vintage hot pink soldiers were popular with collectors so I decided to produce Tim Mee army men in pink There weren t any other pink toy soldiers on the market and I thought it was such an unusual product that it just might have an audience I released the pink army men in early 2013 and they were successful Over the years I ve heard from customers who purchased the Tim Mee Toys pink soldiers for various reasons They were often given to girls as a de facto girl version of the green army men They have been featured in breast cancer awareness campaigns peace campaigns and they ve been distributed for military women s outreach and education The pink soldiers haven t been popular with everyone but I think they may have contributed to people thinking about female toy soldiers They may have also inspired customers to contact me about the issue since their search for plastic army women often leads to the Tim Mee Pink Platoon as I unofficially call them In 2015 I purchased BMC Toys from founder Bill McMaster s son James McMasFacebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 ter While working on relaunching the brand I began thinking about what the next phase for the business might be and how that growth might include the creation of new original products I considered developing a set of plastic army women I don t remember exactly what prompted the idea but it was probably one of those customer requests for female soldiers I do recall mentioning the idea at the kitchen table and everyone thinking it was a good one I added it to the list of potential projects but I didn t give it too much thought as I had my hands full getting BMC Toys back up and running A brief conversation becomes a military women s campaign In May of 2018 JoAnn Ortloff Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Sea Service Leadership Association was on a cruise with fellow active duty and retired Navy Chiefs Aboard the ship during a military veterans meet and greet a shirt with I m the veteran not the veteran s wife on it started a conversation and female soldier toys was brought up As part of Women in Military Service for America WIMSA the women were looking to give out pink toy soldiers at events and and the question was brought up Why aren t there any regular green women soldiers JoAnn looked at toy companies online to see if they carried them so they could order some for the WIMSA event A foreign country had busty and provocative anime styled military women These were soldiers but not considered appropriate She looked up a different company that created male green soldiers and went to their FB page however when she said she was looking for female toy soldiers and asked them about producing them they responded that they couldn t change the figures and couldn t help her It was then that JoAnn contacted Jeff Imel at his toy company asking about female toy soldiers and the campaign began to kick off JoAnn mentioned in her social media post from June 2018 FINALLY Actual female toy Soldiers in progress for our daughters granddaughters and for us Finally a female Soldier and not just a pink male one for us Women serve too Closing the gap According to Jeff When I received JoAnn s email I was already taking the next step of asking customers what products they 27

Page 28

would like me to produce and I was testing different methods for product validation making sure there s a demand before creating a new product JoAnn grew up playing plastic army men with her brothers and she was looking for sets featuring women soldiers for her granddaughters She also mentioned that 2 million U S military women are currently serving and she said she wasn t much interested in the pink toy soldiers I responded to JoAnn with some background information about my company I explained that my company produced toys made from vintage toy molds however I was willing to consider the project We exchanged a couple more emails and JoAnn mentioned she had outreach to military women who would likely support the project So I decided to write a blog post about it and set up an email newsletter About two weeks after JoAnn s original email I posted the blog article with the intent that when the project newsletter received enough subscribers I d run a crowdfunding campaign to fund the project My business is small so I m always apprehensive when it comes to allocating resources to a new product that may or may not be successful My concern with this project has always been how long it might take to recoup the investment and finding the time in my schedule to work on development These are questions I ask about every 28 project but the outpouring of support and media attention from young Vivian s letter the six year old who wrote Jeff a letter requesting toy women soldiers has far outweighed any concerns I had The goodwill and exposure the project has generated is a once in a lifetime opportunity for which I just couldn t be more grateful Now my goal is to deliver the best version of the product I possibly can The unbelievable and unexpected media attention young Vivian s letter inspired has raised the busy meter to a whole new level It s been very challenging to fit everything into a regular 24 hour day but I couldn t be more pleased about it right person helped catapult the dream of these toy soldiers towards reality In closing and as we recounted to Jeff in our appreciation message while we can t wait to beat out the six year olds to get our hands on these we must urge our readers let us remember to deport ourselves with kindness and a spirit of sharing in the presence of children as we are fervently seek the same prized tiny toy possession as our younger selves surely will when they become available We have asked Jeff to consider making a few extra so that we may each have our own collection No more trying to crush monster Barbie into a tiny fox hole after your brother s Army men have long disappeared Voices unite As you can see from both Jeff and JoAnn s experiences there were a few catalysts however what was needed was a consistent collective voice The prompting of JoAnn Ortloff in tandem with young Vivian s request at just the right time in the ear of the BMC Toys was founded by Bill McMaster in 1991 and began producing original historically themed plastic soldier playsets shortly thereafter Inspired by the classic playsets of the 1950s and 1960s he used his experience as a Toys R Us purchasing agent to become an entreprene ur and bring this classic style of toy to a whole new generation Bill created a bridge to the 21st Century for the plastic soldier hobby and even mentored several new plastic soldier companies He operated BMC Toys until he unexpectedly passed away in 2014 VictoryBuy worked with Bill s family to continue production of the BMC Toys product line Current production is made in the same factory that has been producing the line for over 20 years Bill is sadly missed but BMC Toys is soldiering on Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 29

Additional interview questions we asked Jeff Does your woman toy soldier have a name Generally speaking plastic Army men don t have names unless they re specific character figures Unofficially we ve been calling the first pose Loretta after Navy Chief Yeoman Loretta Perfectus Walsh She was the first woman to serve in the United States armed forces in a capacity other than as a nurse and was also a native of Olyphant Pennsylvania which is very close to Scranton Loretta was mentioned by a very early supporter of the project Have you learned about women veterans in the process of creating these women soldier toys Absolutely I ve learned a tremendous amount from my own research and from project supporters I m maintaining a growing list of military women of distinction and I hope to incorporate this information into an educational component of the project What has been the most surprising to you about creating for women veterans I was very surprised by the number of women veterans who sent messages expressing how they wanted little green army women when they were youngsters I was also surprised by how strongly military women reacted to non regulation hair shown in some of the early concept sketches I ve since learned more than I ever would have expected to learn about women s hairstyles in the military between making the figures look like women in person but not crossing the line into what could be perceived as disrespectful What attracted you to giving a firm yes to this project Shortly after media stories about six year old Vivian s letter began to appear I received a call from a national network morning show They were considering airing the story in 2 or 3 weeks and asked if I could commit to producing the plastic army women so they could get Vivian s reaction on camera I was caught completely by surprise and told the producer I couldn t commit to that I hung up the phone and instantly realized I may have just made a huge mistake So I called them back and said I needed a couple of days to see if I could do it or to at least determine if there was time to create a prototype for their piece They eventually chose not to do the story but in the meantime I hired a sculptor to craft a prototype and secured quotes to have the plastic What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating women soldier toys Creating a set of female toy soldiers has presented some unique challenges I always felt it was important to easily identify the figures as women without presenting them in a pin up style or with exaggerated anatomy Initially I assumed that hair would play a significant role in differentiating the women from their male counterparts but feedback from women service members caused me to rethink that They quickly educated me about regulation hair and told me it was important that the hair on the figures was compliant Small scale figures appear differently in person than when they re enlarged on a screen so it s a balancing act Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 injection mold made I had enough information to put together a budget estimate for the project so when CBS called about doing the story for an On the Road with Steve Hartman segment to air on the evening news I was prepared All that said saying yes to producing a new toy that kids and adults want is a great feeling It s about as close to feeling like Santa Claus as you can get What inspires you about women veterans I m inspired by anyone who chooses a life of service I ve been incredibly impressed with the strength intelligence and spirit of perseverance that has shone through in so many of the messages I ve received from women in the military I m honored they ve taken the time to write to me and support my project I couldn t ask for better allies What do you think other people should know about your organization company I d just like to let folks know that I m a small business and I work really hard to provide a good value for my customers Even though my company is mostly a one person operation I rely upon a lot of other people and businesses and I do my best to treat everyone I work with as I d like to be treated What kind of research did you do to determine the pose of this first woman soldier I had a general idea of some of the poses I wanted in the set as there are a number of classic poses that reoccur in toy soldier sets I chose the Captain pose because the anatomy of the pose is pretty straightforward I thought it would be a good starting point to establish the style and details for the rest of the figures What is the outlook for the future of adding more poses I ve already added a 5th pose to the project and I m planning a crowdfunding campaign in November The crowdfunding will allow customers to pre order and we can also expand the number of different figures in the set as further goals are met Is there anything else you would like to share I d like your readers to know that I understand this project has really struck a chord with military women and their families and that I take the responsibility seriously A set of little plastic figures depicting female soldiers seems like such a simple thing but I realize it s taken on a deeper meaning to a lot of people Based upon the messages I ve received for many women in the military it seems to represent just a little bit of recognition for their service and ever expanding roles in the armed forces I ve said that all kids want to be the hero of their own story at playtime and so my primary goal has been to create a set of female toy soldiers that allow a greater variety of heroes for kids to choose from and connect to I now see that it also connects kids and everyone else with real life heroes they might not have known about if it wasn t for all the hullabaloo surrounding a set of little plastic army women To all women veterans and active duty service members I want you know that I respect you I appreciate you and I thank you for your service 29

Page 30

PHOTO BY PIXABAY WOMEN VETERAN LICENSE PLATES BY SHEILA L HOLMES W hy do women need their own monuments and license plates when most states already offer monuments and license plate options for veterans Retired Navy Commander Pat Cerchio of NavyWN has a simple response When you think of a veteran what do you think of It s not a woman We all know that We think of WWII or VietNam or present day but it s a rare occasion that anyone thinks of a woman in any of those groupings Even with the I Am Not Invisible campaign the VA at least in Delaware states that their intention is to use the photos throughout the administration to get their own people who work there to realize women are veterans too Pat walked us through the steps that occurred in Delaware and how a simple degree of separation led to license plates for women veterans While a Marine Corps veteran started the process of planning a project for a 50 000 monument to be created to honor women veterans by the same person who created Senator Mc Cain s monument people began to step forward to enhance that monument s dedication ceremony One person thought it would be nice to have 30 a pin at the dedication of the monument and so erans Parade the Women s Military Service an artist was commissioned to make up a design Monument was unveiled coinciding with not Their plan was to have 500 pins gifts at a cost of only the release of a book providing additionappx 800 Another gentlemen who was helping al images and biographical information for all coordinate the monument and who also works Delaware women veterans but also with the for the state senate was at a Heritage Society new license plate for Delaware women vetermeeting and mentioned fundraising for the pins ans There are truly just a few degrees of sepafter which one for those Heritage Society mem aration between any of us When we think of bers walked up to him and offered to pay out how we should go about accomplishing our right for all the pins Yet another participant in mission of greater visibility we must not overthe monument committee Beth Rosebroooks look how furthering someone else s vision can an ex Sailor and Delaware Department of Trans help us see our own become a reality If not portation emfor a monument the ployee reached If not for a monument the license plates might out to the Secrelicense plates might never had never had become a retary of Transporality or perhaps they tation about a become a reality would have become women s veterans delayed license plate and the process began As for Pat Her own mother was a WWII The monument committee decided rather WAVE when her mother and father married than simply names they wanted women veter it was her mother s GI BIll that was used to ans to be visible They chose to include photo purchase their first home Because of the lographs on the front would be present day and cation of the monument her mother s image even an active duty Marine on the backside of faces the street and Pat enjoys driving by the monument were images of women from downtown Dover to see her mom every time WWI through Vietnam era she passes the monument that honors and her Following the 4th Annual Delaware Vet own mother s service Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 31

WELCOME THE STATES WITH WOMEN VETERANS PLATES On February 21 2019 the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was the most recent state to release new veterans vanity plates including a women veterans plate The cost is 35 and 15 of those dollars go toward the Veterans Trust Fund for programs and resources for women veterans Here are additional states with a women veteran plate option see if your state is on the list If it s not let s take a look at how to get it done Arizona 25 initial application fee plus 25 annual renewal no renewal fee for personalization of a veteran plate in addition to all applicable vehicle licensing and registration fees A whopping 17 goes to a special account in the tax deductible Arizona Veterans Donation Fund to assist homeless women veterans Delaware One time 20 00 fee and half of that money goes to Veteran s Trust Fund Florida Revenue generated from plate sales is used solely for creating and implementing programs to benefit female veterans Georgia Georgia not only has Woman Veteran plate but there is no additional fee to obtain one Illinois Does offer Women Veteran License Plates with an initial fee and subsequent low or no cost renewals as long as the current plate does not expire within 90 days Missouri Offers the Woman Veteran plate for 15 00 Nevada Has an initial cost of approximately 50 and 25 annual renewal These fees support outreach programs and services for veterans and their families New Mexico Provides for a license plate labeled Women Veterans Serve Proudly A portion of each plate fee is transferred to the armed forces veterans license fund Ohio Offers nearly 40 military related specialty license plate including one dedicated to women veterans South Dakota Offers a late for each branch s emblem with the words Woman Veteran for a 10 special plate fee and 5 mailing fee Tennessee Honors Molly Pitcher on their plate Initial fee of 29 80 and annual fee of 26 50 Texas Offers a zero cost plate for women serving or who have served in the Armed Forces Texas National Guard or the Texas State Guard West Virginia Offers a plate for honorably discharged women veterans Washington D C Issues vehicle identification tags honoring women veterans SOURCE OF STATES WITH PLATES HTTP WWW NCSL ORG RESEARCH MILI TARY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS STATE POLI CIES FOR WOMEN VETERANS ASPX Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 31

Page 32

INFORMATION MY MILITARY RESOURCES WEBSITES va gov womenvet Center for Women Veterans Monitor and coordinate VA s administration of health care and benefits services and programs for women Veterans womenshealth va gov Women Veterans Health Care Learn more about the changing face of women Veterans and what VA is doing to meet their health care needs dol gov vets womenveterans American Women Veterans is the nation s preeminent non partisan 501 c 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to serving honoring and empowering military women veterans and their families AWV welcomes veterans and supporters from all eras and branches of service SOCIAL MEDIA The Women Veteran Program monitors the employment situation of women veterans to ensure DOL VETS programs serve women veterans and male veterans equitably Facebook com VeteranWomenSEC Facebook com AmericanWomenVeterans Facebook com WomenVeteransAlliance aapf org black women veterans MEET UP GROUPS Join us for a conversation where we explore the under discussed marginalization and abuse of Black women who serve and protect our country womenveteransalliance com The premier women veterans network focused on directly impacting the quality of life of women veterans Creating a community both online and off line including local women veteran networking groups community events and national conferences world wide which provide opportunities to connect and grow Searchable directory for women veteran organizations womenveteransalliance org allies meetup com WomenVeteransBusinessOwnersUnited search meetup Dallas meetup com topics women veterans PHONE NUMBERS Women Veterans Call Center 855 829 6636 We also have a comprehensive list of resources listed by category which we update twice a year womenveteransalliance org resources National Suicide Hotline veteranwomensec org 1 800 273 8255 1 To position women veteran business owners Active Duty Reservist and or military spouses as our nation s leading small business revenue generators and employers 32 americanwomenveterans org 1 800 273 TALK 8255 Stop Soldier Suicide Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 33

MILITARY HUMOR Riddles What do you call a soldier who survived mustard gas pepper spray A seasoned veteran What do you call a Marine with an IQ of 160 A platoon How many American officers does it take to screw in a light bulb Only one but they do it from 30 miles away using laser targeting at a cost of 8 3 million LITTLE WINGMAN A young man whose mother was a helicopter pilot once saw a man walking to a helicopter and proclaimed You mean Daddies can be helicopter pilots too I THINK I JUST THREW UP A LITTLE BIT I am in a line at Lackland Air Force Base ready to get my immunizations After waiting for about 30 minutes I feel myself getting ill I don t want to get out of the line for fear of getting in trouble so I wait until another 10 minutes has passed Do you have a funny story about your time in the military Email it to us at contact avowmagazine com I finally cannot do it I feel like I am going to get sick So I step out of the long line and proceed to quickly walk up to my drill sergeant Ma am I need to use the restroom right away She responded with No Go back in line Airman I could see her confusion with me as I insisted again Then I did get sick and threw up on her pants and shoes She proceeded to yell Go now Go to the restroom I felt bad for getting sick on her but sometimes the drill sergeant isn t as on their toes as we recruits are WHOSE ITEM IS IT ANYWAY As an active duty woman in civilian clothes I was making a purchase at the exchange The cashier looked at me and assumed what I was buying was a uniform item for my spouse Taking me into her confidence she stated I don t know if you realize this item is gender specific so this may not work for your husband CLASS A When I turned around I noticed one of the men from our office who later acknowledged that he d always heard me tell these stories about military women not being recognized but he d finally become true believer Not that I thought you were lying but until I stood there and watched it I just had no concept I honestly couldn t believe she assumed you were not the person who was serving And she works at the Navy exchange WHO S LAUGHING NOW A sailor in a bar leans over to the person next to them and asks Hey do you want to hear a Marine joke They respond Well before you tell that joke you should know that I m 6 foot tall I weigh 200 pounds and I m a Marine The person sitting next to me they continue is 6 2 weighs 250 pounds and is also a Marine Now you still wanna tell me that joke 2019 C Wilkinson Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 The sailor says Nah I don t want to have to explain it more than twice 33

Page 34

BY MELISSA WASHINGTON CEO FOUNDER WOMEN VETERANS ALLIANCE O ne of the many questions I get is Why do you call it an UnConference My response It s not your typical conference I purposely designed it to have elements of different conferences that I have attended spoken at and planned I wanted to take my expertise to elevate this 3 day experience for women veterans to provide different experiences that some may not have experienced or have had time to do As an event planner there is a lot to consider when putting an event together One of those is demographics as we span from all ages ethnicities working have children retired etc With the average age of a woman veteran being 48 how do you a create a weekend event for all One of my favorite aspects from Marine Corps Balls are the cutting of the cake by the youngest and oldest Marines in attendance This is something that I implemented during our opening session which is a real eye opener when we look at age span of those in attendance One year the youngest was 22 and the oldest 92 This 34 34 is why we have varied types of breakout sessions and activities throughout the weekend One thing we learned from the first UnConference in 2016 is the need for childcare This is one of the biggest barriers for any mama whether she is single or married to attend an event We remove that barrier of Who is going to take care of the kids so I can invest in me We offer a Kids Retreat where they are provided plenty of activities This is great for moms as they know their kids are close by and taken care of The UnConference was held at the former officers club at McClellan Park in Sacramento Oh what fun it was We started Friday night with a Roaring 20 s mix mingle followed by Saturday s equine therapy at a horse arena next to the property breakout sessions exhibitors clothing boutique LinkedIn head shots and massages We closed the event on Sunday by assembling bags to give to homeless women We introduced a mobile phone app that was a hit This was a great way for not only the women but exhibitors and speakers to connect with each other In 2017 we decided to have two UnConferences Sacramento in Spring and Los Angeles in Fall By this time the word was starting to get out nationally and we started to receive an increase of women flying and driving in from other areas Spring in Sacramento started with our Mardi Gras themed mix mingle Keynote speakers were Nancy Glowacki Army veteran and Women Veterans Program Manager from the Department of Labor Kiyo Sato a 90 years young Air Force veteran and Sandy Adams Ret Rear Admiral from Women s Memorial WIMSA One of our exhibitors was the Veterans Benefits Administration and they followed up on and started new claims We introduced the Kids Retreat which was hit We also had a chapel set up the entire weekend Saturday evening was a blast as women veterans provided us with their best stand up routine and singing Our guest performance was by country music Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com www AVOWMagazine com

Page 35

recording artsist Auburn Road Sunday we had a beautiful dog tag pendant an art class and wine tasting We closed with Col necklace for our members Patsy Thompson and her wife Barbara Bass shar Our Saturday night was ing their story Surviving the Silence of how their full of laughs with women love conquered military and societal obstacles veteran comedians orgaFall 2017 was our first time in Los Angeles nized by Dee Wright Proat the beautiful Pacific Palms resort atop a hill ductions Sunday morning flanked by a green hilly golf course great setting was a goose bump moment for the morning walks We added golf lessons for our community givefrom a golf pro meditation room and members back event We made fleece only lounge Our mix mingle theme for the blankets that were given to second UnConference of the year was Mardi Fisher House Camp PenGras and we had a really cool group Art of Sax delton Women brought perform We loved these guys so much we invited their scissors and measurthem back the next year We again had equine ing tape and were ready to therapy at a horse arena next to the property go with cutting the fleece Gail Soffer founder of The Mindful Warrior They created their own Project and her team were taking care of our la teams some had the fleece dies in the Health and Wellness area A few wom on the table and others on en received full personalized hair makeup and the floor It was amazing clothing makeovers from MJ at Makeovers that to hear the women chatter Matter For the first time we offered a cannabis with each other as they tied breakout session It was so popular we had to add on the fleece From our first additional sessions John Smecken former Naval UnConference we have Aviator and advisor on Top Gun was one of our partnered with All Events Management Group entertaining keynote speakers Then Sara Rud for all of our events Lisa Montes and her team der inspired us She is a Marine Corps veteran provide us with excellent event management wife mom and won five gold medals at Invictus They get to know the attendees and the attendGames as an amputee Saturday evening we had a ees get to know them which adds to a great special screening of Blood Stripe and on Sun event experience for all Some great things have day morning Kate Nowlin the actress and pro happened to our attendees when they stop by a ducer was our closing speaker table in the exhibit hall In 2018 we were back at the Pacific Palms One of our partners James Bogle Army Resort with our Veteran and Promix mingle Connecting with female veterans at the gram Director USC theme Super UnConference was amazing I d forgotten Marshall School of Sheroes and la how we have an instant bond with each Business Masters for dies dancing the other We are so unique from the rest of Business shared At night away This the world Treat yourself to an uplifting USC Marshall School was the first year experience You ll be so glad you did of Business we know Women Veterans that the Women Vet KRISTIE CANTRELL NAVY VETERAN Giving awarded erans Alliance is a terthe Melissa Washington Small Business Award rific partner for connecting to the hugely capa 2 500 was awarded to Beth Beeson Marine ble women who have served our country in the Corps veteran and owner of La Jolie F te military There is a tremendous entrepreneurial Since our first UnConference we have had a spirit on display every year at the UnConference styling boutique coordinated by Danielle Mar and their members are natural candidates for our shall Air Force veteran and owner of Styled to graduate program the Master of Business for Profession She partners with upscale clothing Veterans One woman we met at the event was manufacturers to get NEW clothing donated so incredible that upon completion of her MBV Last year she partnered with Swarovski to create degree we offered her a faculty position Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 The October 11 13 2019 Unconference was at the beautiful Hyatt Resort in Monterey California is our 5th Unconference and for many in attendance and it is their yearly reunion Our Saturday night event features a women veterans fashion show coordinated by Fariza Meyer US Army and owner of La aube Boutique Our Lifetime Members will receive a Special Edition Women Veterans Alliance High Impact Tote from Sword Plough We are always looking for sponsors to help offset the costs This helps attendees not have to pay full price and are provided a fantastic experience The 2020 UnConference will be held in Las Vegas Nevada Attendees have the opportunity to register at a discounted special rate Some of the responses that we receive after each event are Best women veterans event that I have been to When is the next one Connecting with my sisters was Amazing More information on the Unconfernece www WomenVeteransUnconference com 35

Page 36


Page 37

We often speak about having space our own place to feel safe and appreciated and to be productive many of us actively seek ways to be supportive of our military family For nearly a century the American Legion Auxiliary ALA has proudly claimed that woman s space as the largest women s service organization for veterans and their families Women veterans may be dual eligible as both a Legionnaire if they served between certain dates and as an Auxiliary member if they are the daughter spouse or mother of someone who served W hile there are obvious benefits to all female spaces the American Legion itself has dwindled in membership to the extent that they now accept all veterans with all service dates except orders under Title 32 on August 30 2019 the ALA announced they were extending membership to male spouses of U S veterans and servicemembers by passing a vote to replace the word wife with spouse in their constitution and bylaws For those who are members of the Legion or Auxiliary how many times have we seen spouses sitting at the canteen social quarters bar area patiently waiting for their spouse to be done with whatever meeting they are attending Typically these are the women waiting for the men to finish with their Legionnaire meetings but as the ranks of women in active duty and as veterans increases where is our support system welcome If your spouse is a woman she may join the ALA as the language clearly reflected wives of service members were welcomed Where are the men who would choose to support us welcomed Until now they ve had one option when it came to the American Legion and the Legion s supporting units join the Sons of the American Legion S A L Sons or sit this one out According to the Legion website S A L members include males of all ages whose parents or grandparents served in the U S military and were eligible for American Legion membership The website does not indicate that males whose female Where are these men the spouses of women who have honorably served and are eligible as Legionnaires able to serve and support their wives in the Legion family Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 wives or female daughters served are eligible to be a son While we confirmed eligibility via email we were also informed that posts may make individual exceptions at the local level to allow husbands of veteran spouses to be involved in the programs of the post based on executive board recommendation The S A L s focus is on heritage and male descendancy not present tense servitude regardless of sex or gender and there may not be an available S A L squadron at every post This again begs the question Where are these men the spouses of women who have honorably served and are eligible as Legionnaires able to serve and support their wives in the Legion family This brings us back to the Auxiliary If our male spouse is ineligible for the Sons until now there was no place for him at the Legion other than possibly as a social member which not all posts engage encourage or allow He d be in limbo and that displacement can be seen as a diminishing of respect for our service whether it s intentional or not In any service organization people identify with the descriptions and achievements of the whole and the ALA is no different in its own description as the largest women s patriotic group and it must be noted that Accepting men can be a difficult conversation at best Many ALA members are tied to the description of the organization s exclusivity to women When the ALA was formed in 1919 it was a reasonable expectation that men were those who served and women as their wives mothers sisters 37

Page 38

and daughters would be their advocates The ALA has accomplished a proud herstory of service to military families according to their website This past year American Legion Auxiliary members volunteer service of more than 40 million hours plus 37 million raised and spent on mission outreach has a collective value of 1 7 billion in service to veterans mil itary children and communities Nearly every woman I know has a story of being asked if they are an Auxiliary member or whose wife they are when she enters an American Legion and the awkward silence when we inform someone we are the Legionnaire or we are a Dual Legionnaire Auxiliary member Will we as Auxiliary members be able to remember that feeling and choose to welcome the male spouse of the service member to make them comfortable and to seek out their unique abilities to serve the military family or will we remain tied to the original exclusivity of the organization to the bitter end so much so that we lose out on a person or group of people who ultimately have the same goal as the ALA Service above Self Only time will tell As it is with most conversations surrounding what may be felt as a painful transitions it will be a true test of that motto to see in the coming years how men are accepted and whether they are actively welcomed into the Auxiliary family As of now nothing on the ALA website other than a minor announcement on August 30th 2019 promotes the inclusion of men into the Auxiliary unit Do members want credit for that service as women If yes that s self or do they prioritize the service If service becomes the priority then whomever can serve the best and coordinate the most effective service should be welcomed for the contributions they can offer In the end the Auxiliary members ability to be wholly in service not self will assist the organization to remain committed through this challenge in service of the woman veteran SOURCES LEGION MEMBERSHIP RULES WWW LEGION ORG MEMBERSHIP FAQ SAL MEMBERSHIP RULES WWW LEGION ORG SONS JOIN ALA MEMBERSHIP WWW ALAFORVETERANS ORG MEDIA NEWS MEM BERSHIP IN THE AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY NOW OPEN TO MALE SPOUSES OF U S VETERANS ANDSERVICEMEMBERS 38 Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 39

Page 40

PHOTO BY NACHO JU REZ P rior to my retirement date I fostered fantasies of long decorated fingernails late mornings in bed and housewife bliss I was exhausted of the military grind It showed in the state of my mental and physical health as well as my mindset I retired in March 2015 after nearly 20 years of honorable service My retirement was due to PTSD and physical injuries That event marked the start of a new life and a new way of being The moment I put ink to my DD 214 I lost my identity daily routine and all of the rules that shaped my adulthood Despite a year of intensive therapy medication and yoga I still saw suicide as a way out of the darkness Shortly after my discharge I d landed a job with a major hospitality company within their corporate offices I was excited to still be able to provide for my family and rebuild my founda 40 tion Fears of being one of the tens of thousands of homeless women veterans floated away as I signed my offer letter The excitement of returning to the city where I met my husband buzzed within me My family was jazzed that our new life was starting within a city that we loved Fast forward several months after my retirement I was fired from my job I felt unwanted and useless I had never been fired before During my service I d always earned high marks for performance I was often asked to help others correct mistakes they d made or establish better systems so being involuntarily terminated devastated me I can attribute my termination to several external factors and even look within and identify my own contributions At the end of the day none of those reasons mattered What mattered most was this devastating event that sparked a fire in me It motivated me to start my own business a dream that would have stayed a fantasy if I d never been fired I forged onward with a concept my sister and I d developed years before Butter Angels Handcrafted Skin Care Handcrafting body butters was a hobby my sister and I engaged in for years It gave me a sense of peace and calm when I was stressed Launching Butter Angels allowed me accommodations that a regular 9 to 5 wouldn t It offered me the space to transition from the military in a healthy manner while being flawed sleepless forgetful and ill It allowed me the room to be a full time mom to my daughter and a full time wife to my husband It gave me a purpose and a mission that my soldier s mind desperately needed Entrepreneurship gave me a distraction from the darkness that clouded my mind Operating Butter Angels kept the darkness of suicidal ideFall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 41

My Business Saved My Life BY ROLANDE S SUMNER ELI MP CPC ations major depression and significant anxiety at bay Let me make it clear my demons were still with me but at least as an entrepreneur I was able to direct some of the negative energy toward a productive space I discovered who I was at my core and had the time to learn about what I wanted and what mattered most to me Operating Butter Angels made it possible for me to take care of my family and myself without having to ask permission to do so via PTO or sick time requests In June 2018 I started Life After Service Transitional Coaching to help women veterans transition from the military into entrepreneurship So many women veterans like myself struggled to participate in the traditional workplace needing accommodations the traditional workplace is unable to provide Entrepreneurship is an avenue for women veterans to continue to contribute to Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 society while taking care of themselves and their families and harnessing their power Here is the thing entrepreneurship offered me the vehicle to not only set my own financial stratosphere but the freedom I needed to choose how and when I care for my family and myself It offers me the autonomy to create the rules for which I live and operate my business Living my life and creating an impact that honors my core values and allows me to live my purpose has enabled me to maintain my sanity It has helped me demonstrate to my children that entrepreneurship is a viable way of life available to anyone who is willing to take a risk and do the work My small business saved my life It is my vehicle of autonomy freedom limitless wealth potential and a means for me to demonstrate to my family that they can do anything Rolande S Sumner ELI MP CPC Military Transition Coach Leadership Development Consultant Rolande S Sumner is a retired US Army veteran and the Founder of Life After Service Transitional Coaching LLC She served in the Army National Guard as a Man Day and Active Guard Reserve Soldier She is a member of the International Coaching Federation and a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Index Master Practitioner Her passion is inspiring women veterans to create their own autonomy and success 41

Page 42

PHOTO BY TRINITY Have You Ghosted the VA BY SHEILA L HOLMES E ver heard the term Use It or Lose It We all have Some people use the term in relation to memory or mobility while many others remember it in conjunction with military resources A unit wants to always use up its budget so that it can request more next year in case of unforeseen circumstances requiring more money Not utilizing those financial resources only means you ll be budgeted less in the next year But what does this mean with healthcare We know that men are the majority of the population utilizing VA healthcare in 2017 there were around 16 5 million male veterans and 1 6 million female veterans But what do we know 42 about women s use of the VAMC system Do you choose to go to the VA for your healthcare Why Why not These are complex issues Ghosting was the topic of conversation in an October 2018 Town Hall for the Women s Multi Service Center at the VAMC in Philadelphia Pennsylvania I d never heard this term before but I immediately identified with it ghosting vanishing from the Veteran s Administration entirely after service There are many reasons women veterans have for walking away Lack of women practitioners No service connected disability Sexual harassment hostile environment at VA facilities Better coverage under employer plan Ability to navigate complex medical system in determining eligibility Feeling some other veteran deserves more Perceived lack of equal or specialized care Better coverage under partner spouse plan Anger not wanting anything to do with the military Coordination of care between VA and private carriers Location especially in rural areas and for homeless or transient patients Fall 2019 www AVOWMagazine com

Page 43

The list of reasons many veterans feel is sufficient to not utilize VA care looms large the best reason to use it is this we as women must band together How can we expect to receive quality care if we 1 do not participate in the program and 2 do not demand better for ourselves which will in turn create better care for our service sisters in arms As Jennifer Steinhauer pointed out in a March 2019 New York Times piece roughly 30 of women veterans report being harassed or assaulted while serving and an entrenched sexist culture at many veterans hospitals is driving away female veterans and lags far behind the gains women have made in the military in recent years and while 16 of the active duty military force is women we currently make up only 8 of all users at the V A Statista A case in point at my initial psychology intake appointment upon telling my provider my symptoms his response was I have worked for the VA over 30 years and have never heard of a woman as young as you describing these symptoms Even simple comments such as these do not inspire confidence in treatment outcomes If you as a provider of services across decades to the military community have never heard of my symptoms disease or condition how can I trust your treatment Or is it me Am I too young Should I be here If not here where do I belong I was frustrated at feeling a male psychiatrist was ignorant of such a prevalent diagnosis as PMDD but I was angered by the request to have my husband return for my continuing treatment When I asked why I was informed Sometimes the spouse understands changes in behavior better than the patient In the interest of my own care I stared blankly made a follow up appointment and thought further about that request I also mulled it over with my private sector psychologist and we agreed that it was an inappropriate request for my particular treatment I felt I was once again faced with a choice never return to the VA or self advocate I knew I needed treatment I knew my treatment required Facebook com AVOWMagazine Fall 2019 medication and documentation I knew there for our veterans included images of women was no way I was bringing my spouse to a private Where are those images Is it possible the immental health appointment During a follow up ages are missing because we aren t demanding phone call I responded Please inform the pro to be seen For those of us who have access to vider that I will not be bringing my spouse as I better care I posit that we must still take up have inhabited this body for 45 years and have the charge for Women s Health Services if not only been married for six months it will be me for ourselves then for our Sisters who access to who speaks to the workings of this body and care how effective treatment is The nurse s response Even when we do have excellent care and are was Ok I will let him know your husband is fortunate enough to live in a metropolitan area not available I needed to then correct him and with access to multi specialty groups choice plans state unequivocally that My husband is abso and extra specialty care we should still consider lutely available and would be quite honored to utilizing the VAMC to complement our treatbe invited to my care however what I said was ment and visa versa With the advent of Electronic that I choose to speak on my own behalf To my Healthcare Records we do ourselves a disservice by surprise during the follow up appointment the not choosing optimum care at multiple facilities provider accepted my statement and though he Only by repeatedly showing up to the examining did explain his reasoning a bit better in follow up table can we ensure our needs are documented are sessions he accepted my point of view and we financed when the budget requests come around are still engaged in the treatment that I need and and are accurately and compassionately addressed that treatment is working And I also know that in treatment outcomes Is it exhausting at times only 5 of women are diagnosed with PMDD Yes and we must include ourselves among the I am in hindsight thankful that my provider lis veterans our community is speaking of when they tened and educated himself as to my condition advocate for our better care and prescribed an effective course of treatment Us it or lose it We must use our benefits or As our world becomes more and more inter we lose them We must self advocate even in dependent we realize that the choices we make the moments of sickness when we are most vulas individual women affect other women When nerable Using the VA even to complement priI chose to ghost from the system in 2001 and vate insurance lessens the private sector finanreenter the system in 2019 I realize it s not just cial burden and increases those dollars to the VA twenty years of silence it s effectively twenty for better care As more women become eligible years of inference The healthcare system can pre and utilize the VA benefits we very much desume that because I don t avail myself of VA care serve and swore our lives in exchange for our that I must have better care elsewhere or that I voices grow louder our care grows better our don t need it or worse that I don t want it That s visibility becomes more crystal We become the not true I just recieved better care elsewhere I change we wish to see received less harassment and less red tape It is also a microagression of indifference toward my fellow sisters in arms who need that care In recent years the call for better care has risen ever louder to care for our vets for our homeless vets employment for vets healthcare for vets yet I cannot claim even one of those SOURCE U S Veterans by Gender 2018 Statista static3 statista com statistics 250271 us veterans by gencampaigns to better care der fbclid IwAR0sj5TMbTTjDCg8tRGEI12OQ78dqDUCHUE54FEJg61gvW7yfS0a1cGeOnI 43 PHOTO BY PIXABAY Lack of specialized care maternity high quality anticoagulation or allergy therapy Lack of timely resources over a month for initial visits and for specialized care

Page 44

S e r ve Honor Emp owe r American Women Veterans Foundation generations of powerful and inspiring women believes that women have always been the We strive to Serve Honor and Empower catalyst for change within our homes our women from all branches of service with a communities and the world We envision a continued sense of pride and community society in which the legacy of America s service which enables them to continue to servicewomen veterans and their families reach their full potential and contribute as is celebrated and carried on to future they always have in making America stronger American Women Veterans is the nation s preeminent non partisan 501 c 3 non profit organization dedicated to serving honoring and empowering military women veterans and their families AWV welcomes veterans and supporters from all eras and branches of service A M E R IC A NWOM EN V ET ER A N S ORG Shop and Supp or t AW VG E A R C OM