Over the weekend, I attended a Stand-Up for Women Vets. And what exactly is a Stand-up? While I don’t know where the phrase, Stand-up, originated; perhaps it indicates showing support, like when we stand for the national anthem. It’s clearly not the opposite of stand-down; a military term that means cease-fire or truce. This Stand-Up for Women Vets event took place at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial (WIMSA) at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. One area of the Memorial I visited for the first time was the Upper Terrace with its panoramic view of the cemetery and city. Glass tablets are etched with quotations about women’s service.
We wanted to serve our country in its time of need.
WW II Coast Guard Captain Dorothy Stratton
The Final Salute-sponsored stand-up occurs annually on Mother’s Day weekend. Women veterans from all branches of service had the opportunity to obtain business attire, shoes, accessories, make-overs and Linked-in photos. One veteran who made an appearance was the reigning Ms. Veteran America, Kerri Turner, who serves in the National Guard.
But the Stand-up is just one of the endeavors of Final Salute; a organization in northern Virginia that provides support for transitioning women veterans and military women, in addition to helping homeless women veterans. Veterans need more than a resume to ensure successful entry into the civilian workforce. Given that the unemployment rate for female veterans (5.4%) is higher than for male veterans and for those who never served in the military, the efforts of programs like Final Salute boost employment opportunities for those who served.
Final Salute’s Housing Outreach Mentorship Encouragement (H.O.M.E)
and Savings Assessment and Financial Education (S.A.F.E) programs assist women veterans and their children who are currently homeless, facing homelessness, or under financial strain. The purpose of S.A.F.E is to prevent homelessness by providing emergency financial support, along with education on saving and budgeting. S.A.F.E financial training is mandatory for H.O.M.E residents. While veterans represent 8.6 percent of the national homeless population, homeless veterans are mostly male and single, which leads to the further isolation of homeless women veterans.
Less than 1% of the American public have served in the military, so how can the 99% support the troops and their families? Contributing to one of the over 40,000 non-profits that were founded to help military and veterans is one way. Charity Navigator will help verify that organizations you support are legitimate. However, Final Salute is not eligible for a rating because it does not have at least $1 million in revenues.
Another Virginia organization, Code of Support Foundation (COSF) is in the process of vetting 2,500 organizations to develop a database called PATRIOTlink. This searchable list of qualified organizations will help case managers find resources for their veteran clients. If you as a donor have difficulty figuring out where to contribute, imagine how much harder for a veteran facing an emergency to find the resources he or she needs.
Code of Support Foundation estimates 30% of veteran families are facing a crisis and require assistance. Tens of thousands of nonprofits and governmental agencies are committed to assisting service-members navigate the varying scopes and eligibility requirements. COSF’s match-making database and case managers have the capability to connect veteran families in need with agencies and nonprofits that can help.
We want to support the troops with more than yellow ribbons. I am glad to know that there are safety nets for dealing with an immediate crisis, while looking at identifying and solving the underlying issues that led to the predicament. Get involved today.
© Joan S Grey, 13 May 2016
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