Thank You for Your Service
Women face considerable challenges during and after their military service, it is important that they understand that they are not alone. While access might be less obvious or more difficult, women veterans are entitled to the same veterans’ benefits as men, as well as some that are tailored to their particular needs.
If you have read the home page, then you will know that there almost 17,000 of your fellow female veterans in the state of New Mexico. There are plenty of support networks and safety nets available to you, let us help you connect with them.
At the UNM VRC, we are committed to serving all veterans. We are forever grateful for your sacrifices and your bravery.
VA - Lean In Partnership
Quite the high-profile alliance
The VA recently announced its partnership with the Lean In organization on June 2. Lean In provides a large professional network and a space for groups of women to symbiotically support each other in realizing their ambitions. New users may join "circles" of other users who meet periodically to discuss new opportunities and continue improving their professional success. Lean In is certainly not limited to veterans. In fact, there are over 500 companies and organizations that are already partnered with Lean In, creating an extremely advantageous professional environment. From Adidas to Amazon, and from Levi Strauss to Lebron James, Lean In has touched a vast amount of career fields. Female veterans are part of an intimate group. No one can understand the struggles and joys of being a female veteran as well as another female veteran!
The VA expresses their intension in the release provided below,
"The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Center for Women Veterans today announced a partnership with LeanIn.Org, the nonprofit organization founded by Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to empower women to achieve their ambitions. Building on the successful launch of LeanIn.Org circles within the Department of Defense, VA is following the same model to increase support to women Veterans.
The VA initiative is called the LeanIn.Org Women Veterans’ chapter. The Women Veterans Chapter is comprised of two distinct pilot programs: the Veteran-to-Veteran program, a virtual program, which allows any woman Veteran to participate, no matter where she is located; meetings will be moderated and attended by women Veterans throughout the United States. The second is a face-to-face pilot circle. The face-to-face program is created in partnership with the existing LeanIn.Org chapter in Seattle, WA. This circle is an innovative hybrid of women Veterans and non-military members providing an environment for both to learn and share leadership skills.
'We are thrilled to have LeanIn.Org as our collaborative partner,' said Kayla M. Williams, Director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans. 'For many years, women Veterans have expressed to us that they need to have a mechanism to engage with their fellow women Veterans to make a difference in their community and we believe this is the perfect match. VA is pleased to be a part of these two pilot programs.'
'Women are the fastest growing population of our nation's Veterans and through this Circles program, these women will have the peer support and community they need to reach their goals,” said Ashley Finch, LeanIn.Org, Head of Partnerships. “Leanin.Org is proud to be a part of this groundbreaking and important initiative.'
Women ride to war as well
The relationship between women and combat is historically sensitive. Many ancient eastern cultures have trained women in swordplay for as long as they can record. In fact, the jian, a Chinese military commander/gentlemen’s sword is at times described in pinyin as “delicate lady”, and is considered the best weapon for female combatants. While other, more western cultures deemed it inappropriate for women to involve themselves in matters of combat, there are some famous rule-breakers.
The story of Catalina de Erauso bears some striking resemblance to the desires of female soldiers today. Her Spanish family was filled with military figures which gave her much pride. Though her interests in warfare were building, she was expected to make a choice that was presented to all young women in the Basque Country, accept a marriage proposal, or join a convent until a proposal would come. In March 1600, she escaped her convent before taking her final vows to become a nun, and began her long journey to military service under the name Francisco de Loyola. This journey included much of the west coast of South America and ended with her enlisting in the Chilean Army, preparing for battle in the Arauco War.
From the convent and through her military service, she changed identities and disguises that fooled even her own immediate family. Some feel that women should not fill combat roles because there is a clear biological advantage given to men that will put female soldiers in greater danger. The details of Catalina's combat prowess are an example for the contrary. Without delving into off-putting detail, she demonstrated that she was not only a satisfactory soldier, but also an outstanding one. She earned the rank of Lieutenant during her service. This event is not so fondly recalled as it involved the conquest of the "New World". This conquest was violent, as most of us know, and we respect the lives that were lost. The shame and fear of taking lives as ordered weighed on her as it does for most every soldier. After all of her service in the military, she had experienced everything that a male soldier had, and only after her service did she reveal her gender. She has been given the nickname,"La Monja Alférez", the Nun Lieutenant. Imagine the shock of her brothers in arms... Perhaps she is the inspiration for a certain character in a certain HBO hit show!
We do not know how long or perilous the struggle for female involvement in the military will be. We also don’t always know who is truly listening when female veterans expose the injustices against them. What we at the VRC do know is that we love to see our women veterans, and we will help in any way that we can to show our gratitude. As always ladies, thank you for your service.
Former VRC Staff Stands Up for Women's Right to Serve
UNM and Alumnus Administers Training in Fort Polk
There is still debate surrounding the rights of women in the military. In 2015, the first female Army rangers earned their rank. There are many doors that have yet to be opened for women in the military, what will come next? Read the story by Task and Purpose.