Today has been declared Women Veterans Recognition Day in Michigan by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. In a news release, the governor says Michigan has almost 44-thousand living women veterans, and they’re being honored today, along with the women who served before them.
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency is launching a three-year initiative called She Is a Veteran to help these women tell their stories and get the benefits and services they need.
Erika Hoover of She Is a Veteran served in the Navy. She talked about the program with WKAR’s Scott Pohl.
SCOTT POHL: Tell me about your service.
ERIKA HOOVER: I was in the Navy. I served from 2009 to 2013 in Lemoore, California. I was an aviation machinist mate. In civilian terms, that's a jet engine mechanic on the F-18.
POHL: We often hear about the struggles faced by veterans including homelessness, post traumatic stress and suicide. DO women who served deal with these kinds of issues at the same rate as men?
HOOVER: Actually, they're serving at higher rates now than ever before in the military. There are more men that have served obviously, but women are experiencing these issues at higher rates, such as one in four have responded yes to a military sexual assault. They're coming out of the military with these issues, and trying to figure out how to deal with them. It's really complicated and it's very hard for them, and so that's kind of what today is about and what our initiatives are about.
POHL: You brought up sexual assault. Increasingly, we're hearing the stories of women who faced assault while serving. That has to be a factor in their civilian lives.
HOOVER: Absolutely. And again, that's why She Is a Veteran is so important, to hear the stories. We're building the case for why we need a women's program in Michigan. That is what She Is a Veteran is. It's this three year initiative to get things rolling and to create these things and these gender specific services for women in Michigan.
POHL: What kind of message do you have for women veterans and their loved ones from She Is a Veteran?
HOOVER: She Is a Veteran is the initiative to create this women's program, and today on Women Veterans Recognition Day, I encourage all family members and co-workers to ask a woman ‘have you ever served in the military?’ and to thank them for their service. Women have a hard time being recognized, and they're under-recognized, and they're underutilizing services. So today is really a day of celebration, and happy Women Veteran Recognition Day everybody!
POHL: It's a three year effort. Can you tell me where people can find more information?
HOOVER: You can find more information on Michiganveterans.com, you can call 1-800-MICH-VET, or you can look us up on Facebook. There's a form right there that you can click on and find more information about it.