It is our honor to celebrate the many accomplishments of our women veterans as our Champions of Change. At this time in our Nation's history there are more women serving in our Armed Forces than ever before. Since the creation of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901 women have been faithfully serving in our Armed Forces as nurses, mechanics, pilots, ship captains, unit commanders and more. In these jobs women have found themselves on the front-lines, but by the Administration's decision to lift the ban on combat positions to women gives them a chance to serve in all military roles. The opportunities in and out of military service continue to expand for women. For many of them their selfless service does not end when they take off the uniform for the last time, instead they continue to serve not only their communities, but also the very people they stood side-by-side with.
Marsha Four is a shining example one of these women. She served in the Army as a nurse during the Vietnam War. After leaving the service she was determined to help her fellow veterans and founded a 95-bed transitional home for homeless veterans. She also founded Mary E. Walker House, transitional residence program for homeless women veterans.
Marsha's story is just one of the many you will get to hear today from women who have dedicated their lives to the service of others. We are thrilled to be able to honor 14 incredible women in our Champions of Change event. Following their military service, these women have integrated back into the communities and become leaders in their schools, business, and local governments.
We couldn't possibly capture all the amazing contributions our women veterans are making across the nation. But we remain dedicated to the commitment we have made to all veterans. The Administration continues to demonstrate this promise by signing the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act, VOW to Hire Heroes Act, and an Executive Order to strengthen suicide prevention and veteran mental health care services. Joining Forces, led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, continue to enlist community and local support by securing veteran hiring commitments from corporations around the country, establishing educational commitments from state and national nursing organizations and nursing schools, and campaigning for state credentialing and licensing legislation to assist veterans in translating their hard earned skill sets to the civilian sector.
It is the combined dedication of the women we honor as Champions of Change, our local communities, corporations nationwide, the Administration, and many more that secure our Nation's commitment to those who serve. We were excited about the day's events, and excited to meet some of these amazing women.
Champions for Change: Women Veterans
- Sharie Derrickson, Nashville TN. A Navy veteran and Vice President of New Wind, LLC who sought out energy start-up companies to join.
- Priscilla Mondt, Fayetteville AR. An Army & Desert Storm veteran with Bronze Star, as a VA Chaplain she runs a scholarship program for other chaplains.
- Glenna Tinney, Arlington VA. A retired Navy Captain who has managed military domestic violence and sexual assault programs as a former Dep. Director of the Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence and current Program Coordinator for the Battered Women’s Justice Project.
- Stacy Pearsall, Charleston SC. An Army veteran with three tours in Iraq which led to Bronze Star two time winner of NPPA Military Photographer of the Year. She owns Charleston Center for Photography and donates art to the Charleston VAMC.
- Ginger Miller, Accokeek MD. A Coast Guard veteran and founder of Women Veterans Interactive (formerly John 14:2), which has a Guidstar.org seal of approval. She is formerly homeless and started these organizations to assist other women veterans with their point of need.
- Natasha Young, Boston MA. A Marine veteran, Gunny Sgt, who deployed to Iraq twice and lost 6 marines during her deployments. She was selected as a Mission Continues fellow and was then hired as an Outreach Coordinator.
- Wilma Vaught, Arlington VA. Founder of Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation (WIMSA). Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAF, Retired, is President of the Board of Directors of the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation, Inc. Her last military assignment was as Commander of the US Military Entrance Processing Command, North Chicago, IL, where she served from June 1982, until her retirement in August 1985. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Women’s History Museum and serves on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation Board of Trustees. Following retirement, she worked as a consultant with the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization as well as with industry. She speaks around the US on leadership and management and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs.
- Marsha Four, Springfield PA. An Army veteran, Vietnam nurse and founder of a 95-bed transitional housing residence (LZ II) for homeless Veterans recovering from substance abuse. She is also the founder of the Mary E. Walker House, transitional residence program for homeless women Veterans located on the grounds of Coatesville VA Medical Center.
- Marylyn Harris, Houston TX. An Army veteran and nurse who created Women Veterans Business Center to educate and empower women Veterans and military families to start and grow their own businesses.
- Becky Kanis, Los Angeles CA. An Army veteran and director of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, a national movement of over 185 communities working to find permanent homes for chronic and medically vulnerable homeless Americas.
- Kayla Williams, Ashburn VA. An Army & Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran who advocates on Veterans policy issues, especially those that promote gender equality in the military and equal access to benefits and services for women Veterans. Served on the Advisory Committee on Women Veterans. Actively participates on panel, radio, and television discussion on women’s combat experiences, to help stakeholders, policy makers, and the public gain an understanding of how combat can impact the lives of the women who experience it.
- Michelle Racicot, Albuquerque NM. An Army Operation Enduring Freedom & Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, nurse practitioner. She is on the advisory board of American Women Veterans, and a community advocate (fundraiser/educator/volunteer) on homelessness.
- Dawn Halfaker, Arlington VA. An Army Operation Enduring Freedom & Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and founder and CEO of Halfaker and Associates. President of the Board of Directors for Wounded Warrior Project.
- Tia Christopher, Davis CA. A Navy Veteran who currently works for the Farmer-Veteran Coalition as the Director of FVC’s Fellowship Fund. Ms. Christopher speaks nationally on issues facing women veterans, has testified before state and national legislature, and was a community instructor for the National Center for PTSD, Menlo Park. Christopher serves as an advisory board member for The Pathway Home: California Transition Center for Care of Combat Veterans.
Rosye Cloud is the Director of Policy for Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Families.