Department of Florida

From the Chairman

FROM SUSI MARTINEZ, WOMEN VETERANS CHAIR

Susi Martinez, Women Veterans Chair

Susi Martinez, Women Veterans Chair

September 2017
Sadly, Women Veterans are often overlooked in our nation even though they now comprise 10 percent of all US Veterans. The Department of Veteran Affairs reported the total US Veteran population was 21,368,156 as of September 30, 2016 with Women Veterans numbering 2,051,484. The Sunshine State ranks third in the nation with 154,820 Women Veterans calling Florida home.
A study performed by the Disabled American Veterans reported that the organizations and government agencies in charge of providing support for female veterans usually fail to understand the unique needs that women may have after being in the service and going through deployments. According to the National Veteran Foundation, the current support system for veterans was designed by and is still dominated by men. The mental, physical, and military service needs of women are often very different from those of male veterans. Homelessness is another area where our Women Veterans struggle more than males. Since 2006, the number of women veterans who are homeless has more than doubled. Often these veterans are single parents with children who are negatively impacted by the lack of available services for women. Women Veterans also face a tendency for higher rates of unemployment than male veterans and even higher rates than women who have not served in the military. Many Women Veterans are still unaware they are eligible for the full range of federal and state benefits, to include special programs for women.

Our Women Veterans deserve much better options while they serve in our military as well as after they come home. They deserve equal treatment opportunities and care that is gender specific. The current practice of trying to adapt medical and mental health treatments designed for men to work with women is no longer an option. New practices must be created so that Women Veterans are properly cared for in every aspect, with gender specific treatment options and devices. It is necessary to increase access to support groups specifically designed for women facing issues with, PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and homelessness.

Those who choose not to be part of the solution become part of the problem. Your Department of Florida Women Veterans Chairman will be a motivating influence for these government and community based systems to adapt to the needs of our Women Veteran population; and actively ensure adequate services and timely information regarding programs and benefits for Women Veterans become readily available. The American Legion, Department of Florida will be an active voice in making a positive impact in our communities to overcome disparities while inspiring changes still necessary to accomplish the vital mission of properly caring for women who serve. Contact by email: womenveterans@legionmail.org .