Fresno event offers free services to female veterans

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than a dozen local organizations came together Monday at the second annual Women Veteran Stand Up to help female veterans from the Central Valley.

Despite a little rain and wind Monday morning at the VFW Post in West Central Fresno, women veterans from across the Valley were in the spotlight of a subject that is often left in the dark.

"I use to say I was in the Army and now I say I am a veteran. And I think that's the most important thing is we want to empower women to understand even though they weren't deployed overseas, they're entitled to the services and benefits as a veteran," said Annette Wholaver, a veteran of the United States Army.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than two million living female veterans; that's 9 percent of all veterans in the U.S.

"If you look at the growing segment, women veterans represent the fastest growing segment of U.S. veterans. So there are going to be unique needs that sometimes cannot be addressed as a whole," said Cenethea Lofbom with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Veteran Stand Up educates and encourages women about a wide range of available support services that include college education, job training, housing and health care.

"There's a lot of resources in the community. I didn't know I could enroll in VA Health Care; I'm now enrolled in VA Health Care. So I'm taking advantage of those benefits that came to me so later on," said Wholaver.

These veterans even had the option to receive free clothing and day spa services.

Leaders from the California Department of Veterans Affairs connect with organizations up and down the state, and they say networking is important for these veterans.

"Because those of us who served in the military as women don't often recognize our veteran status or we don't often come together as veterans," said Cal Vet Deputy Secretary Lindsey Sin.

Networking for all Valley veterans continues later this week, when more services will be offered at a stand down.
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