At the request of our Mayor to research female veterans’ needs in mid 2012, YWCA Glendale conducted research and found that amongst the 2 million women veterans and active duty service members across the nation, some statistics are alarming and indicate that the prevalence of traumatic events among female veterans reflects the following:
• 81%-93% any type of trauma
• 30%-45% military sexual trauma
• 46%-51% physical assault
• 35% child physical abuse
• 18%-19% domestic violence *
As a result, YWCA Glendale made a commitment to empower all women who have served or serve at the local, statewide and national levels.
Since that time, we have been developing a compressive approach to serving our women veterans that has included: establishing a relationship with our state’s Deputy Secretary of Women Veterans Affairs; creating a veteran’s coalition with our Mayor and Chair for the local Commission on the Status of Women; hosting leadership programs tailored to the needs of female veterans; hosting military women empowerment conferences including resume writing, job interviewing and how to dress for success; financial literacy classes sponsored by our local senator; holistic health care classes; establishing a YWCA student club at our local community college to in part focus on the needs of the female veteran student body; fundraisers such as We Carry On Runway luncheon to benefit workforce wear for military women; events to educate our community on major issues such as hosting The Invisible War with a panel of military sexual assault survivors.
The issue of military sexual assault has gained much attention since the release in 2012 of the documentary, The Invisible War, which was the first movie to focus on military sexual assault. According to the FY2012 SAPRO report released earlier this year by the Defense Department: An estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assaults occurred in FY2012, a 37% increase from FY2011; 25% of women and 27% of men who received unwanted sexual contact indicated the offender was someone in their military chain of command and 50% of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed that nothing would be done with their report.(http://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/mjia)
As I continue to do research and develop our Focus on Female Veterans, I have become very aware that the Female veteran is in acute need of focus and representation by a highly reputable Women’s organization, such as the YWCA, who has a long and strong history of identifying and ultimately serving women in need.
Now is the time for our organization to act, take the lead and be at the forefront of serving the female veteran. The female veteran population is projected to double in the next four years. We have a great opportunity to be progressive, dynamic and a first responder to the current critical need of a population that is so well suited with our history, mission, vision and purpose. The YWCA Glendale stands behind every woman who has served and thanks her for her service to our country and communities.
*TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE, Vol. 8, No. 4, October 2007 384-400 DOI: 10.1177/1524838007307295 © 2007 Sage Publications
Lisa Raggio is the Senior Director of Community Services, Development and Communications at YWCA Glendale. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from C.S.U.N. with an emphasis in Human Dynamics and Leadership. Raggio is a visionary leader known for her ability to win community support, develop key coalitions and build relationships with a shared sense of purpose.
Posted with permission from YWCA USA