Episode 128: Navigating Veterans Resources

A Conversation with the Jacksonville Urban League and the NAACP

Veteran Resources for Women

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) was created to empower women veterans and military spouses/partners to find their passion and learn the business savvy skills necessary to turn an idea or start-up into a growing venture.

About V-WISE

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) is a premier training program in entrepreneurship and small business management. V-WISE helps women veterans and female military spouses/partners find their passion and learn the business savvy skills necessary to turn an idea or start-up into a growing venture. 

V-WISE is funded through the generous philanthropic support of corporate and foundation partners nationwide.


Military Affairs and Veterans Department

Navigation

Jacksonville.gov > Departments > Military and Veterans Affairs > Jobs for Vets > Veterans Support Organizations

Veteran Support Organizations

Northeast Florida

Veterans Council of Duval County Florida
Northeast Florida Women Veterans
Zahara Veterans Network
Operation New Uniform
K9s for Warriors
Red Cross
Greater Jacksonville Area USO
Greater Jacksonville Area USO Pathfinder
Five Star Veteran Center
Onward to Opportunity Jacksonville
The Mission Continues 
Wounded Warrior Project
First Coast Honor Flight
 

National

Team RWB
PsychArmor Institute
Make the Connection
Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
 

Northeast Florida

The Veterans Council of Duval County exists to cooperate with local, state and national social services and welfare agencies in programs relating to the welfare of veterans, military personnel and their dependents. The purposes and functions of the Veterans Council of Duval County Florida include: ​​

  • To act a liaison between veteran serving organizations in the community and the City of Jacksonville’s Military Affairs and Veterans Department (MAVD)
  • To improve communication, coordination, and support between veteran serving organizations and the MAVD on matters affecting Veterans
  • To aid and support the MAVD in the events, ceremonies, outreach activities and Veterans-related social services efforts
  • To actively engage in providing support for area Veterans through events, fundraisers, and philanthropic efforts
  • To plan, coordinate, and assist the City or others in establishing any other programs that may be deemed advisable by the Council in serving the best interests of the Veterans and military community and their dependents.

Northeast Florida Women Veterans is focused on ensuring women who have served on active duty, National Guard or Reserves and their children, transition into the civilian community with the tools they need to become self-sufficient. We operate a resource center to provide supportive and career services to women veterans and advocate for and promote community awareness of their challenges and accomplishments at the local, state and national level ensuring each has a voice.
 
Zahara Veterans Network, Inc. was established to serve the unique needs of Women Veterans and connect them to the resources needed to positively impact their families and communities. 
 
Operation New Uniform is a nonprofit organization, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, committed to the professional success of veterans after service.
 
K9s for Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to our Warriors suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and/or Military Sexual Trauma as a result of military service post-9/11. Their goal is to empower them to return to civilian life with dignity and independence. They are the nation’s largest provider of service dogs for disabled American veterans.
 
Red Cross Reconnection Workshops are held in small groups and facilitated by licensed, trained Red Cross mental health professionals to help service members reconnect with their families and reintegrate into civilian life. The workshops are confidential and free of charge. For more information about holding a workshop for your family or other group, call the American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces Service Center at (904) 246-1395.
 
Greater Jacksonville Area USO For almost 34 years, Jacksonville, Florida’s three local USO Centers in Duval County (Mayport USO Center, Naval Air Station Jacksonville USO Center, and the Jacksonville International Airport USO Welcome Center) have served our 250,000-plus active duty military population by offering the many programs of support to improve their quality of life and create that “Home Away from Home” environment in each of our Centers hosting thousands of visitors each year.
 
Greater Jacksonville Area USO Pathfinder Program supports service members and military spouses as they transition from the military to their future community.  Pathfinder Scouts work with service members 12 months before leaving the military and up to 12 months after separation or retirement. Scouts also work with military spouses through any transition during their family’s military career. Pathfinder Scouts work one-on-one with individuals to identify their personal and professional goals, create an Action Plan, and get connected to the resources that are the best fit for them, regardless of where they plan to call home.
 
Five Star Veteran Center is a nonprofit founded in March 2012 to assist veterans in need. We have a specific focus on veterans aged 22 – 55 suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Depression, Anxiety and other related mental health issues. The common goal for each veteran is re-integration into society.
 
Onward to Opportunity – formerly known as the Veteran Career Transition Program – at Tri-Base Jacksonville offers two career tracks: Information Technology and Business Management. Your journey will begin with five days of face-to-face career development training and facilitation. This classroom training includes the two-day Onward to Your Career course, two-days of Community Support briefs and mock interview sessions with local employer partners, and one-day of your industry foundations followed by the Employer Spotlight Lunch & Learns and networking event. The classroom portion is followed by 12-16 weeks of online coursework to earn an industry certification.
 
The Mission Continues is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit that empowers veterans to continue their service, and empowers communities with veteran talent, skills and preparedness to generate visible impact.  Veterans possess the drive and desire to serve others, but without access to the tools needed, their potential to make meaningful impact at the local level remains untapped. On the other end of the spectrum growing numbers of communities in this country are under-resourced and being left behind.  At The Mission Continues, we’re on a mission to connect veterans with under-resourced communities.  Our programs in cities across the country deploy veteran volunteers alongside nonprofit partners and community leaders to improve educational resources, increase access to parks and green spaces, foster neighborhood identity, and more.  Our vision is for all veterans with a desire to continue their service to be part of a movement to transform communities. 
 
Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville with a mission to honor and empower wounded warriors who incur service-connected wounds, injuries and illnesses (physical or physiological) on or after September 11, 2001.

First Coast Honor Flight, Inc. First Coast Honor Flight is dedicated to serving Northeast Florida Veterans as part of the nationwide Honor Flight Network. The mission of Honor Flight is to transport elderly and ill Veterans to Washington, D.C., at no expense to them, to visit the monuments and memorials which honor their service and sacrifice, and enjoy once more the camaraderie of fellow Veterans. First Coast Honor Flight is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Women veterans are missing out on the many benefits available to them, but Florida is taking important steps to remedy the situation.

According to information released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in October of 2015, the national population of women veterans now numbers 2,035,213 and is one of the fastest growing segments of the total population of veterans. At 154,321, Florida’s population of women veterans is the nation’s third largest.

The transition to civilian life from the military service poses difficulties for both genders, but women face a unique set of challenges.

The Challenges Women Veterans Face

Across the nation, women who served in the military are not getting the
acknowledgement and assistance they deserve. Many are not aware of the full scope of federal and state benefits for which they are eligible, and the fact that large numbers of them do not identify themselves as veterans further inhibits their access to and utilization of benefits and support resources.

Military Times’ June 2015 article about a women veterans study states: “The survey of women fellows in the group in April found that about two-thirds did not feel ‘respected and valued as veterans,’ because of a lack of respect of their service or assumptions they must be spouses instead of former service members. That feeling in turn hurt their sense of identity and ability to connect with others.”

The report further says that: “There are limited structured opportunities for women veterans to connect with others who can relate to their experiences and support them during their reintegration.”

Florida Works Hard to Support Women Veterans

While nationally, organizations dedicated to veterans’ causes are taking active steps to reach out to women veterans and improve their post-military transition, Florida is lending the task particular priority and focus—through outreach, compensation, rehabilitation, employment, health care and education initiatives.

The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) has approximately 99 veteran claims examiners throughout the state, but one veterans claims examiner position has been created to specifically support women veterans through a variety of targeted efforts—from helping them file their claims to coordinating an annual conference that builds awareness of services and benefits. Cynthia T. Brown serves as the FDVA’s designated Women Veterans Coordinator and Air Force veteran Larri Gerson, an appointee to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, also does much to support female veterans.

Colleen Krepstekies, Legislative and Cabinet Affairs Director for the FDVA, a member of the National Guard and a public affairs officer for the Army with 11 years of prior active Army duty, says that the FDVA is continually striving to expand what they do to help women and keep pace with the ever-changing military service landscape.

“The fact that women are being admitted to all combat fields will enable them to bring unique leadership perspectives and new capabilities to the table,” says Krepstekies. “While this will open up fresh opportunities for them when they get out of the service and is generally a very positive thing, the women veterans may also face new challenges resulting from the changes—and these will be added to issues that distinguish them from their male counterparts, such as being primary caregivers for children

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