Women Veterans make up 1.8 million of the U.S. population, of which roughly 10 percent are disabled and enrolled with the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are the fastest growing Veteran population, yet many of these women often feel forgotten and pushed aside while trying to navigate a system that wasn’t designed to address their unique healthcare needs. They also feel isolated not only from the entire Veteran population, but from each other.
PVA’s ties to women Veterans date back to its first meeting in 1946 with the arrival of its first female Veteran member, Anita Bloom (affectionately known as “Nita”), who fought to ensure women Veterans’ healthcare needs were properly met. PVA continues Nita’s legacy to this day as part of its Women Veterans Initiative. From the development of its Anita Bloom Committee and creation of its Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat to its advocacy efforts and informative webinars, PVA serves as the nation’s leader in securing safe, equal, and accessible health and wellness services that are at least equal to what they had prior to joining the service and suffering a disability.
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ANITA BLOOM WOMEN VETERANS COMMITTEE
To provide PVA women Veteran members, regardless of age, race, color, disability, national or ethnic origin, or religious expression, an opportunity to achieve an improved quality of life through inclusive, safe, and equal acess to healthcare, benefits, recreational opportunities, and employment services they have earned.
To strengthen the leadership, amplify the voices, and highlight the needs of PVA women members in their pursuit of quality healthcare, accessibility, and benefits. The committee will work with all PVA departments to secure these services and benefits.
Outreach and Engagement
The Anita Bloom Women Veterans Committee (ABWVC) will collaborate with the PVA national Communications Department, PVA Publications, and Membership Department in providing and publicizing resources, knowledge, and services that would directly benefit PVA women Veteran members. The Committee will identify potential women members and encourage them to join PVA. This Committee will encourage broad participation of the members in activities and events for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and information in a context of partnership to influence public decisions and advocacy.
WOMEN VETERANS EMPOWERMENT RETREAT
Created For Women By Women
From service members and family members to caregivers and more, women Veterans wear many different hats, and so do the unique health care challenges they face. PVA’s Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat (formerly known as WE Served) is an all-expenses-paid retreat that focuses on the holistic well-being of women veterans with disabilities. This immersive and outcomes-driven experience – limited to just 40 attendees – is designed to empower women to navigate the unique challenges of their everyday lives … and help them flourish.
Participants enjoy four days of learning and community-building in an inclusive and supportive environment. During the retreat, PVA assembles a line-up of experts and thought leaders who present on topics including:
- Whole health – mind, body, and spirit
- Independent living
- Financial security
- Finding meaningful employment
- Accessing VA benefits
- Women’s health
The goal of this retreat is for women Veterans to walk away with not only new friendships and bonds, but also information and tools they need to be UnstoppABLE at home, at work, in their community, and throughout their life.
2022 Women Veterans Empowerment Retreat Highlights and Testimonials
THANK YOU TO OUR 2023 RETREAT SPONSORS
WOMEN VETERANS STORIES
- Managing Stress
- Recognizing & Using Your Resilience
- Harnessing the Power of the Arts
- The Battle for Balance
- Adapting Physical Activity
- Health Body, Healthy Mind
- Finding Your Power Place
- Myths about Covid-19
- Engage in Something New
- Wellness Through Adaptive Sports
- What’s Happening on Capitol Hill
- How to Be an Effective Advocate
- Don’t Skip: Take Charge of Your Breast Health
- Empowering the Leader in You
PVA Foundation Funded Program: Everlasting Love
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist Dr. Marcalee Sipski Alexander has seen that after spinal cord injury/disease or a life-altering diagnosis, sex and sexuality are often the last things on her patients’ mind. Frustrated by the medical community’s disregard of the importance of sex and sexuality for people with disabilities, and armed with a PVA Education Foundation grant, Dr. Alexander is making a 40 EPISODE YouTube series all about sexuality and love for people with SCI/D. Watch episode 1 below!
- VA’s From Science to Practice literature series includes “Suicide Among Women Veterans: Risk Factors Associated With Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being” and “How Women’s Reproductive Cycles and Sexual Health Affect Their Suicide Risk” to help health care providers better understand unique suicide risks for women Veterans.
- VA’s Make the Connection enables viewers to filter for stories based on condition, gender, service era, and other categories. One video features Yasmeen, a woman Veteran who experienced depression and self-harm after her service. Through counseling at VA, Yasmeen has learned ways to cope and move forward. Hear her story here.
- VA’s Public Service Announcement (PSA) “Here for Her” highlights how women and women Veterans are often there for others, so it is important that others be there for them. Video and radio formats are available for you to download from the Veterans Crisis Line website.
- Unfortunately, both women and men can experience sexual assault or sexual harassment during their service, which is also called military sexual trauma (MST). Let Veterans who experienced MST know they are not alone by sharing recovery-related resources and information. For example, VA offers free care for mental and physical health conditions related to MST with expansive eligibility. Share this infographic for women and refer Veterans in your community to https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/msthome.asp.
- VA’s Center for Women Veterans research and reports.
- Women Veterans who have experienced trauma are at risk for PTSD. The VA National Center for PTSD has a variety of resources.
- PVA National Vice President Tammy Jones and PVA Board of Directors member Anne M. Robinson speak about Military Sexual Trauma and the Anita Bloom Women Veterans Committee as the first women’s initiative in the Veteran Service Organizations in the country in this Policy Vets podcast.