Ginger Miller, president and CEO of Women Veterans Interactive Women of the Women Veterans Interactive.
The Fourth Annual Women Veterans and Women in the Military Veterans Extravaganza will bring together service members and veterans for a two-day empowerment, education conference. From Nov. 11-13, at the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, those in attendance will recognize and celebrate the often overlooked gender in the military.
The event is hosted by the Women Veterans Interactive organization, a national nonprofit dedicated to serving women veterans and their families by helping them make a seamless transition from military to civilian life. The organization is focused on meeting women veteran’s personal needs through advocacy, empowerment, interaction, outreach, and unification.
“As women veterans, a lot of time we don’t always put our veteran status on our arms, we always put our family before ourselves,” said Ginger Miller, president and founder of the organization.
Women Veterans Interactive grew from Miller’s personal experience as a U.S. Navy veteran who served from 1989-1992. Miller describes her transition from the military into civilian life as an “arduous feat.” According to Miller, in the early ’90s there weren’t many resources for military families transitioning to the civilian life which, unfortunately, resulted in families becoming homeless.
Forced to become the sole-breadwinner for her two sons and a mentally-disabled husband, suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome, Miller said her family was homeless as well. “When we were homeless, I worked three jobs, I went to school full-time to pull my family out of that homeless state,” Miller said.
Miller’s personal woes highlighted the lack of resources for veteran families at the time. This led to her creation of a nonprofit organization called John 14:2, which is also a reference to a verse in the King James Bible that speaks of sheltering the homeless.
Indicative of the verse, John 14:2 is dedicated to supporting homeless veterans. The organization provides veteran families with information on affordable housing options, and was instrumental in starting the first Prince Georges County homeless veteran “Stand Down” initiative.
Miller said she felt the organization was still missing an important component. She didn’t feel there was a support system for women. Female veterans, like men, often need mental and psychological support, but their role in the family takes precedence over those needs. “My post-traumatic stress disorder, my disability, and my life weren’t as important as the things that were going on in my family life,” she said.
Historically, homeless veteran services were geared towards men. However women veterans sustain the same types of injuries as their male counterparts, both mental and physical. The American Legion reports that one in every 10 homeless veterans under the age of 45 is now a woman. According to the Legion, there were 1.8 million women veterans in the nation in 2008. Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports there are more than 2 million female veterans in the United States, Puerto Rico, and foreign territories.
Miller said women veterans can look to the Women Veterans Initiative for financial literacy, homelessness prevention, emergency food, health, and wellness, and more.
Miller was recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama as a White House Champion of Change for Women Veterans. Recently, actor and director Tyler Perry made a donation of $20,000 to the organization.
The upcoming event is designed to reach women veterans through an educational expo featuring a career fair and information on support services, financial literacy, housing options, and more.
For more information, go to eventbrite.com.