America’s Military Women are
Moving from Boot Camp to Board Chairs!
Women Veterans ROCK! Kicks Off Fall Civic Leadership Series
to Encourage America’s Military Women to Explore Public Policy and Advocacy
As seen on Action News 6ABC – WPVI-TV.
This year marks the first time since 1944 that there will be no World War II veterans serving in the United States House of Representatives or Senate. With less than 20 percent of Congress having any kind of military experience, and the recent compromises presented in the National Defense Authorization Act, one can only wonder how well the interests of military service members and their families are being represented on The Hill.
As our nation prepares for yet another election season, every electoral candidate worth his, or her, salt will be on a mission to engage this elusive interest group of decision makers who have both serve in the Armed Forces and tend to their loved one’s interests on the home front.
The state of Pennsylvania is home to more than 900,000 veterans. Of that number, more than 71,000 are women veterans who are either retired or are actively seeking career opportunities as they transition from military service back into civilian life.
To examine the challenges, opportunities and barriers America’s women veterans face during this transitional period, the Healthy Caregiver Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, commissioned a 10-year study focusing on women veterans, US Servicewomen, military spouses, and girls in military families in 2010.
Over the last five years, the Foundation has sponsored annual programming to support women veterans in the areas of housing, employment, education, financial stability, health and wellness. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the commission, which has evolved to encompass advocacy, civic engagement and public policy.
In January, the Foundation’s veteran-focused advocacy campaign, “Women Veterans ROCK!” launched the Women Veterans Civic Leadership Institute, a one-year professional development and fellowship program dedicated to “transforming the can-do spirit of military service into a post-military spirit of civic and community leadership.”
Deborah Harmon-Pugh, President of the Healthy Caregiver Community Foundation and Chair of The Women Veterans Civic Leadership Institute, believes that women veterans are the best advocates to serve as catalysts for positive change in the delivery of services to America’s military families.
“Today’s women veterans have what it takes to continue to make significant contributions to community resources, education, and public policy, which is why we want to provide them with the training they need to transition from boot camp to the board room,” said Harmon-Pugh.
The Institute will empower America’s military women by providing them with the educational introduction they need to become activists in the areas of civic engagement; nonprofit board leadership; community and city councils; public policy campaigns; as well as government commissions.
Pennsylvania State Representative Leslie Acosta (District 197), primary sponsor of House Resolution 346 which will recognize 2015 as the “Year of the Veteran in Pennsylvania” during the Inaugural Veterans Day Parade in the City of Philadelphia this November, supports the Women Veterans ROCK! Advocacy Campaign and its vision to inspire Pennsylvania women to seek careers in local, state or national government.
“Women have served. They have made personal sacrifices, and my focus is to highlight their contributions and service,” said Rep. Acosta. “This organization is paramount for women veterans because it is well-respected within the veteran community and it has taken the initiative to push this agenda forward by highlighting information and resources and by being a support system for women veterans.”
On September 19, Rep. Acosta kicked off the Women Veterans Civic Leadership Institute’s Fall Lecture Series by delivering a welcome message on the first day of class. In the same day, Michelle Esser, Senior Program Manager for Research and Advocacy at the Young Survival Coalition and Judge Timika Lane of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas discussed “Advocacy: Turning Your Passion into Action!” and “Women in Public Leadership” respectively.
Institute classes will be offered on a monthly basis from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 19, October 10, November 21, and December 12 before concluding with a graduation ceremony on December 13, 2015.
To deliver the program, Women Veterans ROCK! has partnered with Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, a member of the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program , and established an enduring partnership with Mary Breaux Wright, International President of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, an international sorority that works to educate the public, assist youth, provide scholarships, support organized charities, and promote legislation for social and civic change.
“The ultimate goal of Women Veterans ROCK! is to highlight the valuable contributions women make to our society at large through their civic engagement, community, business endeavors and service in our Armed Forces,” said Harmon-Pugh, National Campaign Chair.
With the goal of serving more than 500 military women over the next five years, the Women Veterans ROCK! Advocacy Campaign and the Women Veterans Civic Leadership Institute are attracting the attention of military servicewomen and spouses across the nation who are interested in being a part of this inspirational gender-sensitive campaign.
Since its launch in 2010, the Women Veterans ROCK! Advocacy Campaign has established affiliate networks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, San Diego, California, El Paso, Texas, Louisville, Kentucky, Richmond, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Florida.
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About Women Veterans ROCK!
“Women Veterans ROCK!” is a Coalition of Women Veteran Organizations and Women Advocacy Organizations Supporting Women Veterans & Military Families. Women Veterans ROCK! Advocacy Campaign is sponsored by The Healthy Caregiver Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. Visit www.WomenVetsRock.org.
Mrs. Yasheaka Oakley Owens
WVR Public Affairs
Direct: (215) 450-6059