On Monday, March 7, Women Give San Diego hosted three local panelists who work closely with the military and veterans, for a discussion on “How to WOWW: The Ultimate Guide to Welcoming Our Women Warriors.” Panelists included Shawn VanDiver from the Three Wise Men Foundation, Dr. Lisa Mills of Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, and Katy Goshtasbi, founder of Puris Personal Brand Solutions and fellow WGSD member, who educated our members on a variety of important issues surrounding transitions out of the military. Alyce Pipkin-Allen (WGSD member and Candidate for San Diego Community College Board of Trustees – District D) moderated this important discussion, which highlighted the various issues unique to female veterans, as well as ways the San Diego community can help. Our panelists noted that you don’t need to be in the military to be involved in assisting vets transitioning out of the military. In fact, services are sometimes more appreciated from those from outside the military, as it is perceived as more voluntary than mandated programs provided by their particular branch.
With transitioning into civilian employment being of key concern for our veterans, the discussion included the importance of providing resources within local companies that can translate military expertise into various skill sets for hiring, as well as providing increased time for those transitioning out of the military. Currently, most military personnel train for 9-18 months to enter the system, yet often receive only one week of assistance as they transition out. The Navy does help some with getting certifications and degrees while within the military, but not all branches/troops are equally engaged, resulting in uneven results. Services within the military are improving in this area, but without assigned advocates to help our military navigate their options, more of this work will involve local nonprofit groups and volunteer activities focused on veterans and military families.
The discussion also covered the importance of adding transition services for the veteran’s loved ones. While military service improves life skills for military personnel, military-based programs don’t often incorporate the military family/spouses. Veterans often suffer from higher divorce rates, substance abuse rates, and mental health issues, which directly affect their families while the veteran is transitioning into civilian life. In addition, many vets ‘destabilize’ because of lack of housing. Affordable housing is a major concern for these families, so we can offer support to our vets by supporting affordable housing options for veterans and military families. Increasingly, programs that are focused in these social service areas for our veterans come from nonprofit organizations and volunteer groups.
WGSD gives many thanks also to our Education Leadership team for leading this event, and to WGSD Education Co-Chairs, Marsha Lubick and WGSD’s very own Woman Warrior (and soon-to-be-veteran) Susannah Stokes for coordinating the event. This discussion helped us see some of the issues our veterans are facing as they transition into civilian life and how we can help them in this process.