Women veterans were just allotted money in Florida’s state budget, which the veterans who run Women Veterans Recognition Week say will help them help more people.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Women who serve our country face unique obstacles. This week, there are opportunities nearly every day for these veterans to seek support and be recognized for their sacrifice.
Women Veterans Recognition Week is about celebrating the accomplishments of our women military members and helping them overcome challenges.
Veterans Deloris Quaranta, president and CEO of Northeast Florida Women Veterans, and Vanessa Thomas with Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs just found out they’ll be able to help more women with money from Florida’s new state budget.
“For the first time in the history, I believe, of the legislation there is money that’s going to be allocated specifically for women veterans,” Quaranta said. “So it’s pretty historical. We’re really excited. We didn’t sleep much last night.”
Florida has one of the largest numbers of women veterans in the country. Quaranta and Thomas say they face unique challenges.
“They come along with children,” Quaranta said. “Men a lot of times, well, many times, they don’t mind sleeping on a bench or under a bridge, they feel safe. But women veterans, you don’t find them there. You find them in their cars with their children or you find them sofa surfing in environments that are not necessarily safe.”
Research by the nonprofit think tank Rand Corporation finds one in four women and one in 16 men are sexually harassed within the U.S. Department of Defense. Quaranta and Thomas say this stops women from going to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“They’re afraid that they may have to come across the person who may have assaulted them,” Thomas said.
This week Thomas and Quaranta hope to show women the importance of going to the VA to receive their benefits. They say with the money they’ll get from the state budget they’ll be able to help more women in more ways.
“We actually have a shelter now that we’ve had, this month will be one year that we’ve been open,” Quaranta said. “It houses seven women veterans and their children. Without that, where would these women be? They would still be in their cars.”
Quaranta and Thomas said they’re proud of how far women have come in the military.
“My job was just to keep the path clear so that the next generation could keep on moving forward,” Thomas said.
The opening ceremony and proclamation for Women Veterans Recognition Week is at 10 a.m. Monday at Jacksonville’s city hall. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. is the state of Florida health and benefits resource fair at the Salem Center at 7235 Bonneval Road.