Col (USAFR, ret) Theresa Z BlumbergVP & Co-founder of Women Veterans of Colorado

Topic: Women Veterans of ColoradoIMG_0279 copy

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In 2010, LtCol (USAF, ret) Kathryn Wirkus, a friend working in the Office of Veterans’ Affairs, suggested that Theresa come in to submit her claim for Veterans Benefits after she just retired from service, and to talk about establishing a Colorado organization for helping women veterans.

Theresa wasn’t focusing on the importance of submitting her VA Benefits claim, but was grateful that Kathryn advised her to do so.

When Kathryn left the service in Denver, she all of a sudden lost all her military environment and felt alone in her transition to civilian life.

From these personal experiences, Theresa and Kathryn realized that an organization to help women who are transitioning from military to civilian life would be quite beneficial. So they co-founded the all-volunteer Women Veterans of Colorado organization (WVOC), which marks it’s 5-year anniversary by hosting their Annual Conference this year at the Inverness, Sep 11-12. Their mission is to “have all women veterans in Colorado realize their full potential.”

WVOC works closely with the Denver office of Volunteers of America, an organization that works through over 30 distinct human service programs in Colorado to help thousands of Coloradans each year. The VOA determined that women veterans typically didn’t identify themselves as veterans, so they didn’t seek the Veterans Benefits that they earned. When asked if they “served in the military”, they responded yes, and that made a big difference in the programs available to help women vets become self-sustaining and reach their full potential.

As a 501c3 non-profit corporation, they access private funding to fill gaps in services that other programs provide. They’re frequently asked why we need another organization when there are so many already out there. They fill the gap by providing specific advice and sensitivity to the varying needs of women veterans. Its value has been validated through numerous surveys and experiences.

The WVOC accomplishes its mission through a variety of activities, including conferences and symposia, connecting women veterans in the community, making them aware of local support resources, and collaborating with other both government and private entities to provide assistance.

[See presentation slides for more details]

All are welcome to participate

Q&A:

  • How many homeless veterans are women? There are over 40,000 women vets in CO – approximately 1% live under distressed circumstances, which is still a significant population
  • Have you encountered resistance?  A frequent question is “why a women vets organization?” WVOC is not an advocacy group, and belongs to and avoids duplicating the services of the VFW and other organizations. Male counterpart organizations have been engaged and supportive of establishing the WVOC. But its clear that an organization is needed to focus on needs of women vets to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks and have a distinct camaraderie with each other. For example, women who have been victims of sexual trauma don’t want to go into organizations that might not be sensitive to those experiences.
  • How many states have an organization like this? Six states currently have Women Veteran organizations. The WVOC is sharing experiences with those organizations and others who are considering starting, like AZ and NC.
  • How are you funded? We’re a typical 501c3, non-profit organization, and totally rely on private funding, grants, and sponsors (e.g., Booz Allen Hamilton).

Theresa’s Thank You note to the QBC


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AFA Football Schedule 2017
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