Virginia Leads the Way for Women Veterans with 5th Annual Women Veterans Summit in Alexandria More Than 600 Veterans Convene for Services, Education and Motivation
More than 600 women veterans from across the Commonwealth and Greater Capital Region attended the 2018 Virginia Women Veterans Summit June 14 and 15 at the Mark Center Hilton in Alexandria.
Hosted by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS), the theme of this year’s Summit was “Change Makers & Trailblazers: The Power of Being a Woman-The Strength of Being a Veteran.” The one-and-a-half day program included presentations and breakout sessions from nationally known experts on a wide variety of subjects from finance, to personal wellness, to effective resume writing, to preparing for careers in the civilian workplace.
Speakers and presenters included Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam, former Virginia First Ladies Anne Holton and Dorothy McAuliffe; representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Virginia Employment Commission and other state and federal agencies; and major corporations such as Amazon, Deloitte, Dominion Energy, Facebook and Wells Fargo.
U.S. Air Force veteran Jeri Stokes, Chair, U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, presented the keynote address. Delegate Kathleen Murphy of Virginia’s 34th District was honored with the Trailblazer Award for her dedication to and work on behalf of women veterans in the Virginia General Assembly. Dr. Niyati Dhokai of George Mason University (GMU) was named Change Maker of the Year in recognition of her establishment of the Veterans and Arts Initiative at GMU’s Hylton Performing Arts Center.
“Virginia is proud to be home to a population of more than 104,000 women veterans,” said Virginia Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Carlos Hopkins. “In fact, the Commonwealth has the largest percentage of women veterans of any state in the U.S. Women veterans face unique challenges as they transition from active duty to civilian life. The goal of this Summit was to give our women veterans the information, resources, and confidence they need to overcome challenges and obtain the success they have earned in civilian life.”
“Our mission at the Virginia Department of Veterans Services is to assure that Virginia continues to be the most veteran friendly state in America. Today, our servicewomen serve side-by-side in every branch, every rank and in nearly every task including in combat zones,” said John Newby, DVS Commissioner. “Hosting our 5th Women Veterans Summit demonstrates that Virginia values their service and that these women veterans, and all veterans, are provided with the respect, recognition and benefits they deserve.”
“While the speakers, on-site benefits assistance and employment opportunities at this Summit was tremendous, it was the comradery and networking – the opportunity to meet new people, make new connections and share stories with fellow women veterans – that may prove to be the most important take away,” said Annie Walker, Director, DVS Director of Veteran Education, Transition, and Employment. “As a proud Army veteran myself, I know those who attended this event left ready to be change makers and trailblazers and eager to pursue new challenges and opportunities in their lives.”
Director Walker noted that DVS will be hiring a newly created Women Veterans Program Manager position to advocate for women veterans issues, including healthcare, benefits, and employment opportunities.
Attendance for the veteran participants was free. Participating partners in the Summit the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Virginia Employment Commission (VEC), Virginia National Guard, Women Veterans Initiative, and Employee Support of Guard and Reserves (ESGR).
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) operates 30 benefit offices throughout the state that assist military veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; and three cemeteries that provide an honored final resting place for veterans and their families. VDVS provides veterans and family members with direct linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The Department also operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s monument to honor the memory and sacrifice of Virginia’s men and women who served and fought to defend our way of life from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.