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NWVU leave no women veterans behind

$100 of $200,000 goal

Raised by 2 people in 10 months
NATIONAL WOMEN VETERANS UNITED (NWVU)

Formed on March 26, 2005 as a not for profit women veterans organization with advocacy and education in mind for military women veterans. The National Women Veterans United (NWVU) consists of a network of Military Women Veterans (MWV) with a history of past and/or present service in the United States Armed Forces, Reserves and National Guard as officers or enlisted. Memberships are local and national. Our uniqueness is that we are of all branches of service during Peace and War eras. Our personal backgrounds are just as diverse. NWVU also formed an Association for individuals who have not served in the Armed Forces but desire to assist NWVU to carry out advocacy and initiatives.

NWVU's mission is to ensure MWV are aware and have access to their VA benefits, resources and entitlements; monitor current or pending legislation that may impact VA eligibility and services. Advocate, educate and bond with all MWV with special emphasis on those returning from deployment; to ensure they are connected to appropriate and direct services and resources for readjustment and coping skills as they return to employment, school and family as well as assisting MWV who are disabled, homeless or at risk.

NWVU can be viewed as “MILITARY WOMEN VETERANS, HELPING MILITARY WOMEN VETERANS”. NWVU opened the IL Military Women Veteran’s Community Center  in July 2015 at 7907-09 S. Racine Chicago, IL 60620, bolstering that it is the only Women Veteran’s Center in Illinois and one of few across the nation that specifically focuses on resources and assistance for women veterans. In addition we started a new Chapter NWVU Shevets in Rockford, Illinois.  

NWVU provides a safe place for MWV to distress in our meditation room, have access to food, clothing, transportation cards, food, gift cards, house ware items when needed and and emergency services when funding is available. In addition, we offer peer–to-peer support that assists MWV on various life situation topics.  MWV are provided financial literacy workshops and assistance with employment and housing searches. MWV has access to computers for business usage, webinars, resume assistance, a kiddie corner for small children, and a big screen TV for movies and self-development videos, a book club and snacks. Over the last five (5) years NWVU has provided services to a diverse group of MWVU and serviced women through our specific programs i.e.  holiday food and toys, a Women Veteran's Conference, monthly informational meetings, peer- to -peer support forums, and individual case management, mentoring and late hour phone support.

NWVU assists homeless and at risk women veterans to ensure that they have immediate safe housing and we examine the barriers that threaten their ability to maintain independence. For the last 5 years we have hosted the only Stand Down for Women Veterans co-hosted with the VA Medical Center at Jesse Brown VA and Hines Women Veteran's Program Managers. In 2017 we partnered with the Chicago State University's new Veterans Resource Center. We advocate for well being services, improved service delivery and adequate gender specific services and resources for MWV who are unfamiliar with federal, state, city and county services.  

Our newest initiatives are  modeled by the SAMSHA eight dimensions of wellness; emotional, social, physical, intellectual, environmental, occupational, financial and spiritual.  We are in our 12th year as a veteran organization and are proud of our accomplishments!  We annully do needs assessments to close the gaps on barriers that prevent women from being resilient.  
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WHY WE NEED A NEW COMMUNITY WOMEN VETERAN'S CENTER

The new facility would allow and provide not only 15 bedrooms for emergency housing but also the necessary space to enhance our current programs for women returning to civilian status who may be challenged with readjustment to family and friends, employment and also for those who are afflicted with PTSD and challenged with continued issues related to their Military Sexual Trauma experience. NWVU provides well-being assistance and peer support that is not under the scope of bureaucracy settings.

These warriors earned the right to have a bed to sleep in, food to eat, independence and access to meaningful resources.

The total population of women Veterans is expected to increase at an average rate of about 18,000 women per year for the next 10 years. Women Veterans currently are and will continue to be an important part of the Veteran community and an important part of VA.

Although the VA has gotten better over the years "The VA cannot do it alone" male dominated national veteran organizations such as the American Legion, DAV, VFW and others give credence to how invaluable partners such as NWVU is as a connection to gender specific needs. NWVU is comprising of all military women veterans of every branch of service, Peace and War-time, officers and enlisted and of all backgrounds and walks of life. This allows any woman who has served in the Armed Forces a warm and safe place to connect to the battle buddy model and share their like experiences in which does not take away their dignity when they need to ask for help. NWVU focuses on the specifics of the individual and group needs assessments. Advocating to close and fill the gaps in services that threaten or interrupt independence and areas that lack opportunities for resilience. We make every effort to respond to immediate needs by providing Right Now services. Help us help our comrades....We will not and cannot leave women veterans behind.

Since the time of an All-Volunteer Force, the number of women serving in the military has grown. Ultimately, these women make the transition from Service member to Veteran. In 2015, women comprised 9.4 percent of the total Veteran population in the United States. By 2043, women are projected to make up 16.3 percent of all living Veterans. This report summarizes the history of women in the military and as Veterans, profiles the characteristics of women Veterans in 2015, illustrates how women Veterans in 2015 used some of the major benefits and services that are offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and discusses the future of women Veterans in relation to VA. The goal of this report is to communicate an understanding of who our women Veterans are, how their military service affects their post-military lives, and how they can be better served based on these insights.

About one in five women and one in 100 men have told their VA healthcare provider that they experienced sexual trauma in the military. Though rates of MST are higher among women, because of the high ratio of men to women in the military there are in fact only slightly less men than women seen in VA that have experienced MST.

3. MST affects both mental and physical health. Sexual assault is more likely to result in symptoms of PTSD than are most other types of trauma, including combat. Symptoms of depression and substance abuse are also common. Sexual trauma can also have severe consequences for physical health and is associated with higher rates of headaches, gastrointestinal difficulties, sexual dysfunction, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.

Even survivors who do not experience problems at the level of formal diagnosis may still struggle in certain situations with emotional reactions, memories related to their experiences of MST, or interpersonal issues. Recovery is possible, however, and VA has services to help Veterans with this.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a trauma. A trauma is a shocking and dangerous event that you see or that happens to you. During this type of event, you think that your life or others' lives are in danger.

Going through trauma is not rare. About 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives. Women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.

PTSD can happen to anyone. It is not a sign of weakness. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will develop PTSD, many of which are not under that person's control. For example, if you were directly exposed to the trauma or injured, you are more likely to develop PTSD.

Here are some facts (based on the U.S. population):

• About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
• About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
• About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%). Learn more about women, trauma and PTSD.

PTSD and the Military
When you are in the military, you may see combat. You may have been on missions that exposed you to horrible and life-threatening experiences. These types of events can lead to PTSD.

The number of Veterans with PTSD varies by service era:
• Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans (or between 11-20%) who served in OIF or OEF have PTSD in a given year.
• Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans (or 12%) have PTSD in a given year.
• Vietnam War: About 15 out of every 100 Vietnam Veterans (or 15%) were currently diagnosed with PTSD at the time of the most recent study in the late 1980s, the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS). It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.

Other factors in a combat situation can add more stress to an already stressful situation. This may contribute to PTSD and other mental health problems. These factors include what you do in the war, the politics around the war, where the war is fought, and the type of enemy you face.

Another cause of PTSD in the military can be military sexual trauma (MST). This is any sexual harassment or sexual assault that occurs while you are in the military. MST can happen to both men and women and can occur during peacetime, training, or war.

Among Veterans who use VA health care, about:
• 23 out of 100 women (or 23%) reported sexual assault when in the military.
• 55 out of 100 women (or 55%) and 38 out of 100 men (or 38%) have experienced sexual harassment when in the military.

There are many more male Veterans than there are female Veterans. So, even though military sexual trauma is more common in women Veterans, over half of all Veterans with military sexual trauma are men.

This fact sheet is based on a more detailed version located in the "Professional" section of the website: Epidemiology of PTSD
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• About 4 percent of women Veterans were uninsured in 2015, compared with 9 percent of non-Veteran women.

• About 30 percent of insured women Veterans had more than one type of health insurance coverage in 2015, compared with about a 13.9% of non-Veteran women.

Use of VA Benefits and Services
• In 2015, 840,000 women Veterans used at least one VA benefit or service.

• The number of women Veterans who used at least one VA benefit or service has steadily grown from 31.2 percent in 2005 to 41.1 percent in 2015.

• Nearly 5,900 women Veterans received burial and memorial benefits in 2015. Of those, about 2,400 were buried in a VA national cemetery and 3,500 received a headstone or marker for interment in a state or private cemetery. In total, about 47,700 women Veterans have been interred in national cemeteries maintained by the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) since 1850. An additional 54,500 women Veterans have received a headstone or marker for interment in a state, private, or other cemetery since 1850.

Use of VA Health Care Services
• In 2015, 35.9 percent of women Veterans were enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) health care system. Not all women who enroll in the health care system ultimately become health care users.

• From 2005 to 2015, the number of women Veterans enrolled in VA health care increased 83.9 percent, from 397,024 to 729,989.

• From 2005 to 2015, the number of women Veterans using VA health care increased 46.4 percent, from 237,952 to 455,875. To put this in perspective, about 13.1 percent of all women Veterans in 2005 used VA health care compared with 22.4 percent of all women Veterans in 2015.

Use of Compensation and Pension Benefits
• In 2015, 405,418 women Veterans received compensation from VA for a service-connected disability, repre- senting about 20.1 percent of the total population of women Veterans. Fifty-four percent of women Veterans receiving compensation had a combined disability rating of 50 percent or higher.

• The top four primary service-connected conditions for women Veterans (post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, migraines and lower back pain) accounted for 29.9 percent of all service-connected disabilities for women Veterans in 2015.

• About 6 percent of women Veterans who received compensation for a service-connected disability were receiving Individual Unemployability compensation in 2015. This represents about 1.3 percent of the total women Veteran population. Individual Unemployability is a component of VA’s disability compensation ben- efit program which allows Veterans to receive financial compensation at the 100-percent level even though their total service-connected disability rating is below 100 percent.

National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics
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Use of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Education Program

• Roughly 21 percent of Veterans participating in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Education (VR&E) program in 2015 were women (27,083 out of 131,607). Participants are defined as Veterans in any of the following stages of the vocational rehabilitation process: extended evaluation, independent living, job-ready status, and rehabilitation-to-employment.

Use of Education Benefits
• In 2015, 149,375 women Veterans used education benefits. This represented about 7.4 percent of the total population of women Veterans. Roughly, 61.2 percent of women Veterans who used education benefits did so from age 25 to 34 years old.

Various data sources were used in this report. This report includes Veteran Population Projection Model (Vetpop2014),the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) administrative data, USVETS, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) administrative data, National Cemetery Administration (NCA), and data from the Department of Defense (DoD). The reference period for most of the administrative data is fiscal year 2015.
Demographic Characteristics

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Approximately 2 million Veterans in the United States and Puerto Rico were women. Women represented about 9.4 percent of the total Veteran population in 2015.

• Twenty-five percent of all living women Veterans served only during peace times. Fifty-six percent of all women Veterans have served during the Gulf War Era (August 1990 to the present).

• The median age of women Veterans in 2015 was 50, compared with 46 for non-Veteran women.

• In 2015, 19 percent of women Veterans were African American, compared with 12 percent of non-Veteran women. African American women are also overrepresented compared to African American men in the military. In contrast, the percentage of women Veterans who were Hispanic was almost half that of non-Veterans (9 percent compared with 16 percent). The percentage of women Veterans who were Asian is less than half that of non-Veterans (2 percent compared with 5.5 percent).

• Generally, as the percentage of Hispanics in the general population rises, their representation in the military rises as well, therefore the percentage of Hispanic women Veterans is expected to increase in the future.

• Women Veterans were more likely to have ever married than non-Veteran women. In 2015, 84 percent of women Veterans were currently married, divorced, widowed, or separated compared with 72 percent of non-Veteran women.

• In 2015, 23.4 percent of all women Veterans were currently divorced compared with 12.6 percent of non-Veteran women.

• In 2015, 28.6 percent of all women Veterans under the age of 65 had children 17 years old or younger living at home, and 29.9 percent of non-Veteran women had children 17 years old or younger living at home.
Socioeconomic Characteristics

• Twenty-one percent of all women Veterans had a high school diploma or less as their highest level of educational attainment in 2015, compared with 40 percent of non-Veteran women.

To join the military now, candidates must have a high school diploma or GED, but that requirement has not always been in place.

National Center for Vetereans Analysis and Statistics vii
• More women Veterans had some college as their highest level of education compared with non-Veteran wom- en (44 percent compared with 32 percent, respectively). Overall, a higher percentage of all women Veterans (34.5 percent) than non-Veterans (28.1 percent) had completed a Bachelor’s or advanced degree.

• In 2015, working-age women Veterans (i.e., those 17 to 64 years old) had a higher labor force participation rate (71.5 percent) than non-Veteran women (70.1 percent).

• A higher percentage of employed women Veterans 17 to 64 years old worked in the government sector (34 percent) than non-Veteran women (16 percent).
• Overall, women Veterans were less likely than non-Veteran women to be living in poverty in 2015. About 10 percent of all women Veterans and 15 percent of all non-Veteran women had incomes below the poverty threshold.
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$100 of $200,000 goal

Raised by 2 people in 10 months
Funds raised will benefit:
National Women Veterans United
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Chicago, IL
EIN: 421678939
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