The 2017 National Women Veterans Summit was scheduled for August 25-26 in Houston, Texas, but unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey forced us to end early so participants could safely evacuate. During and after the devastating storm, VA employees on the ground in Houston worked tirelessly to delivering services to Veterans – and we at the Center for Women Veterans have been developing ways to deliver information from the summit.
Breakout sessions held at the summit on a range of topics will now be offered as cyber seminars. Starting the week of Oct. 23, VA plans to hold two sessions a week for five weeks on topics including employment, entrepreneurship, culture change, reproductive health, state and local resources, medical legal partnerships, whole health and more. These sessions, to be delivered via Adobe Connect, will feature speakers from public, private and nonprofit organizations across a wide array of industries. Not all planned sessions will be presented in this format – we’ve planned a variety of ways to share information, including a podcast on minority Veterans (to be released Friday, Oct.13), a blog with exciting new information on the Million Veteran Program, and more.
Information on financial planning and LGBT Veterans is going up on the dedicated summit website this week, and we’ll post more regularly. Check back on the website soon, or sign up for Center for Women Veterans news updates to be notified by email when they come out.
Before closing the summit, we packed as much as we could into a limited amount of time: on Thursday evening, we enjoyed a performance by women Veteran stand-up comics from ASAP, screened Journey to Normal, and heard from some of those involved in making the documentary. Attendees were deeply moved by this deep, personal dive into both the challenges women Veterans can face reintegrating, their strength, and how humor can play a role in their resilience.
During the opening ceremony, we heard from chair of the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, Mary Westmoreland, and were inspired by a keynote address from VA chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson. We were able to fit in plenary sessions on the voice of the Veteran, health care and benefits, and aired a special luncheon keynote message from retired Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho – first woman and first nurse to serve as the Army’s surgeon general. These sessions were recorded, and will be posted online.
The summit was supported by a range of generous partners including The American Legion, AMVETS, Blinded Veterans Association, BP, Comcast, Disabled American Veterans, General Electric, Health Net Federal Services, IBM, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Optum, Paralyzed Veterans of America, USAA, Veterans Canteen Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, and Walgreens. We are so grateful for their support, along with that of other organizations that provided exhibitor tables, speakers and more.