2021 Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat RecapPosted By PVA Admin on October 18, 2021
On September 30, 2021, over thirty-five female Veterans with disabilities gathered in Tempe, Arizona at the Mission Palms Hotel & Conference Center for PVA’s Women Veterans Retreat. They came to relax, build friendships, and learn how to navigate the unique issues they face after service.
This year’s event focused on the whole health of women Veterans, and included sessions on holistic health, creative writing exercises, entrepreneurial workshops and adaptive exercises.
On Thursday evening, the Retreat kicked off with an energetic drumming “circle,” as attendees were led in drumming, singing, tambourines and shakers, which created a beautiful sound in the Resort’s courtyard and demonstrated how significant and powerful their voices could be when combined.
Friday morning, prior to the day’s sessions, each attendee received Women of Valor Lapel Pin, courtesy of former U.S. Army Surgeon General and retired Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho – who also shared a message of support.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, women Veterans make up nearly 2 million of the U.S. population, of which 10 percent are disabled. Despite being the fastest growing demographic in the military and Veteran population, women Veterans – and especially those who have a disability – need physical, emotional, and mental support after service. Many report feeling isolated in their communities and unsure of how to navigate civilian life. PVA hopes to inspire these women to speak out, interact with one another, and become engaged in a fulfilling and productive life.
“I had a fantastic time; much more than I could have hoped for,” said Kathy Jones, a U.S. Navy Veteran who has Multiple Sclerosis. “I left knowing that I am not alone. The courage, and commitment represented in this group of women Veterans was so powerful. I’m confident that I’m now a part of a team again.”
PVA member and U.S. Army Veteran Twila Adams was injured in a car accident three years after transitioning into civilian life. She is now a multi-sport competitive athlete and talked to attendees about the healing power of reiki. U.S. Army Veteran Lauren Mullen, who works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was also a presenter. She shared with participants how they can apply their military skills and lessons they’ve learned to thrive in a civilian world.
“Before we were sisters in arms and injured or diagnosed with spinal cord-related disabilities – we were women first,” said Tammy Jones, PVA National Vice President. “And as women, we must stick together and take care of each other. Our Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat was created for women by women to help injured women Veterans, like me, use their voices to go after everything they deserve from their benefits and specialized care to all aspects of their everyday life.”
The Retreat featured informative seminars, a professional photoshoot, pockets of free time, and a candlelight dinner on Saturday night, which enabled the women to have fun, share information, encourage each other, and take home knowledge they need to thrive in their families and communities.
U.S. Air Force Veteran Erin Cavit is looking to the future and what she will be able to do in her PVA Mountain States Chapter and said the Retreat “has motivated me to set additional plans and get started”.
The Retreat is part of PVA’s wider initiative to address the specialized needs of women Veterans. This year’s Retreat was sponsored by Bristol Myers Squibb with assistance from First Nation Group, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, OptumServe, and Adidas. To learn more about future events and the unique issues women veterans face, as well as how PVA is helping ensure their voices are heard, visit PVA.org/WomenVeterans.