The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, with support from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and Department of Veterans Affairs, hosted the first annual Women Veterans Benefits & Resource Fair at the Del City, Oklahoma community center.
The goal of the event was to identify and assist women Veterans with eligible state, federal and community partner benefits.
Support for this event included:
- Six accredited service officers from Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs
- Oklahoma City VA Medical Center Transition and Care Management, Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program, Chaplain Service, Native American Nurse Navigator, Suicide Prevention, MyHealtheVet and Eligibility/Enrollment staff
- Two women Veteran service representatives from Veterans Benefits Administration
- Oklahoma City Vet Center
- Troops to Teachers
- USO Oklahoma Pathfinder
- Oklahoma Arts Council
- Veterans Upward Bound
- Social Security Administration
- Oklahoma Veterans of Foreign Wars
More than one hundred women participated in the inaugural event, with 70 checked in at registration, 20 registered vendor tables, operated primarily by women Veterans, and 16 women Veteran event staff and volunteers! A very diverse group of women Veterans were served at this event.
Among those helped were homeless women Veterans, women Veterans who had no previous compensation claims (filed for the first time), military sexual trauma survivors, multiple state Veteran registry enrollments and direct behavioral health referrals to Oklahoma City Vet Center. VA Welcome Kits and MISSION Act brochures were provided to attendees by the Veterans Experience Office.
According to Lisa Mussett of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, this was a “historic event… and a resounding success”.
The goal is that this would be the first of many annual events to increase awareness and access to benefits and services for women Veterans, with the possibility of a Veterans Experience Action Center next year. This next evolution in Veteran support will bring together VA staff, Veteran service organizations, community service providers and other government partners; to provide services, resources, and information directly to a much larger population of women Veterans.
Veronica Jackson-Patrick is a current employee of the VA’s Veterans Experience Office. She has been married to her husband (a retired combat Veteran) for over 26 years; they have 4 children and a beloved mini Yorkie named Tucker.