Fifty-three women Veterans walked through the doors of Douglass Memorial United Methodist Church (UMC) in northeast Washington, DC and into the Veteran Women Resource Center Open House on Saturday, December 11, 2010. Upon their arrival, they were greeted by welcoming staff from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) eager to assist and inform them of the many programs and service available. They also learned the changes VA has implemented to address their concerns and needs as women who have served our country along with our male Veterans with dignity, honor and sacrifice.
During the day, so many women Veterans expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to discuss their housing situation, get information about benefits, discuss employment challenges and opportunities, and see that VA cared enough to come to their community.
Douglass Memorial UMC, Urban Connection Greater Washington UMC and thirteen UMC from the District of Columbia and Maryland welcomed these women Veterans and shared important news with them: fourteen UMCs will have satellite resource centers at their churches providing access to the following:
- computer lab,
- career closet,
- grocery corner,
- counseling services,
- skill seminars,
- child care and
- personal care services.
The idea for the Women Veteran Resource Center came about when Rev. Dr. Helen Fleming, Pastor Douglass Memorial UMC attended a Veterans Day event at Trinity University in DC. She asked some questions “What is the church doing for women Veterans?” and “How can the church work with VA to meet the needs of so many women Veterans?”
Several churches stated they are planning to host forums, workshops and panels and have requested VA attend to provide additional information and training around key issues affecting their Veteran population. VA staff is prepared to visit and assist the satellite centers as speakers, workshop presenters and to provide resources.
If you would like to comment about this posting or to receive more information, email vafbnp (at) va.gov.
Rev. E. Terri LaVelle is the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs