HOW WE GOT STARTED
Female veteran organizations were virtually non-existent in Lane County, Oregon. President, Sonja Fry, was disappointed knowing there are a number of male veteran organizations in this area but very few places where women veterans could go to network and socialize with each other. She asked several women veterans that she knew if they would be interested in attending a meeting to see if there was an interest in getting an organization started where we could network and reach out to each other. Six women veterans attended our first meeting in November 2008. We have continued to meet the first Thursday of each month. We located a place to hold our meetings, thanks to supportive members of the Eugene community and we currently have 38 members of our organization. We welcome female armed service members and veterans from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, serving as active duty, National Guard and Reservists.
NAMING OF THE ORGANIZATION
We recently named our organization – “OREGON WOMEN VETERANS.” Our mission statement is “Women Veterans Making a Difference”. We continue to define ourselves and would like to make a positive impact in our community. We plan on doing service work, volunteering, being visible at community events and of course, networking with each other, spending time socializing and sharing our unique experiences as women veterans. We know that being a woman veteran is a unique experience and we recognize that we can continue to honor ourselves and others by serving our community.
SUPPORT FROM THE COMMUNITY
Some of the presenter’s at our meeting have been Val Conley, Oregon State Women Veterans Coordinator and Marcia Hall, Women Veterans Program Manager for Roseburg VA Healthcare System. They have come to share with us their expertise on women veteran issues and were able to conduct question and answer sessions allowing attendees to have their questions answered and their voices heard. Topics covered were: benefits from Oregon State and the federal government to women veterans, claims procedures, military sexual trauma, women veteran healthcare issues, bills introduced to Congress on women veteran issues, statistics, retreats designed just for women veterans, and much more women specific related information.
FUTURE OF OREGON WOMEN VETERANS
We continue to get the word out about the organization via the local newspapers, internet, veteran organizations and most importantly word of mouth. Recently appointed were officer positions – President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.