How PVA’s Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat Empowered ME

Maureen with fellow attendee Tammy Barlet and Lauren Lobrano, director of PAVE, at the 2019 retreat

I leapt at the opportunity to attend the Paralyzed Veterans of America Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat (then called WE Served) last October. I hoped to recharge my batteries and fellowship with other women veterans. I was blown away at how warm and welcoming the staff and members of PVA were. “Now, this is an organization I would love to work for!” I thought to myself.

As I listened to the talks on managing stress and wellness, I realized the time for me to look for work elsewhere had arrived. (I had been doing work around veterans’ health awareness and education at another organization.) In the session Lauren Lobrano led about PVA’s employment program, PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), we discussed how our military skills uniquely qualified us for positions we might not usually consider. It helped me realize perhaps I could stretch a little further in what I hoped to do as my next career step.

It just so happened that during that retreat, I found out an amazing opportunity to do exactly what I wanted to do had opened up at PVA. I took a deep breath, clicked “apply”—and now, four months after the retreat, I am an Associate Legislative Director of Government Relations working to improve benefits for veterans with catastrophic disabilities.

If you are given the opportunity to attend this retreat, I hope it is as life-changing for you as it was for me.

Maureen Elias
U.S. Army veteran
Paralyzed Veterans of America staff