More than 120 women Veterans attended a “Women’s Night Out” event at the Joint Ambulatory Care Center (JACC) in Pensacola, Fla., in January.

The three-hour “It’s Your Night to Shine” event highlighted female Veterans and services specific to women. The Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System (GCVHCS) Women Veterans’ Program hosted the event.

Lori Milkeris served as the event’s guest speaker. She is the University of West Florida Military and Veterans Resource Center interim director. In addition, she is an Air Force Veteran and advocate for Veterans. She spoke on her military experience, as well as her work with Veterans and her personal experiences.

Women Veterans Network Peer Support Specialist Rebecca Tauber (left) and Cardiology Nurse Beth Thomas speak to a woman Veteran at the “It’s Your Night to Shine” event.

“A woman Veteran helped me through the process.”

“Tonight, thanks to the VA, we are sisters. We are sitting or standing strong. As women, we learn when we’re in the military that we must suppress some of our emotions. Also, you must put your country and your duty above all else, even family,” Milkeris said.

“I didn’t have a lot of guidance about the VA once I was transitioning to being a civilian again. Fortunately, a fellow woman Veteran helped me through the process. It was invigorating to realize the new family I had gained within the VA.”

Services with information tables at the event included the GCVHCS Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, the Whole Health Program and the Women Veterans Network. In addition, members of the Veterans Lactation Program, the Intimate Partner Violence Program and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Program provided information.

Importance of awareness of women-specific services

Alicia Miller is the GCVHCS Associate Director of Outpatient Operations. She said that creating an awareness of VHA women-specific services is an important part of every VHA facility.

“A national survey of Women Veterans in 2010 showed a majority of women Veterans had no knowledge of available benefits. Today, every VA health Care System has a Women Veterans program manager tasked with implementing positive changes in the provision of care for all Women Veterans.”

The Pensacola VA Clinic has the largest women Veteran population of the five facilities within the GCVHCS, with 3,506 ladies enrolled for care.

Jennifer Dwyer is a GCVHCS Community and Public Affairs intern.

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Published on Feb. 26, 2020

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