Creating Something Better: Female Veterans, Their Children and Their Challenges
Contributor: Alba Pagan, Director of Military Affairs, Operation Sisterhood
At Affinity Federal Credit Union, we’re always looking for ways to support our community. In the months ahead, what better way to do so then to support those who have supported us – our veterans? Via Operation Sisterhood, a local organization who aims to help women who served our country, the Affinity Federal Credit Union Foundation will support their efforts through an upcoming school supply drive. As we geared up to work together, we sat down with Ms. Alba Pagan, Director of Military Affairs of Operation Sisterhood to get an inside look at the obstacles that female veterans and their children experience and how the organization strives to support them.
1.) What are the challenges of being a female soldier in the military?
A: As female soldiers, challenges arise at any given moment, starting the moment we leave our families for deployment. On a daily basis, we constantly need to prove ourselves because of our gender. We’re also held to a different exercise standard and cannot participate in certain combat training. Male veterans are able to enjoy the opportunities of advancing to higher ranks and advanced training because of the male only enrollment limitations.
2.) What is the hardest part of returning home from serving in the military?
A: Transitioning. Every veteran goes through this challenging phase and organizations like Operation Sisterhood are equipped to assist women veterans and their children with adjusting at home. Recently, Operation Sisterhood collaborated with Catholic Charities to tend to health care issues within the Veteran Affairs Health Care system. These forums will continue to take place to fight for the rights of better health care for women veterans.
3.) How does Operation Sisterhood help not only women who have served, but their families as well?
A: Operation Sisterhood provides services all year round to empower women veterans by providing mental health services and events that assist women with transitioning, anxiety, family adjustments, PTSD, and MST, etc. We have collaborated with various organizations to effectively serve our women veterans. We are finding innovative ways to connect with our veterans who are unable to reach us because they are unable to attend our meetings.
4.) What is it like for children to have a parent, especially a mother, in the military?
A: Children can easily grow distant from their mother. While overseas, a parent can easily adjust to the minimum amount of interaction between their children back home, creating emotional stress on their children and themselves. Another point to consider is that after a female soldier gives birth, that soldier can be deployable once the child becomes one year of age. Coming back home to a child that does not recognize you, is the biggest heartbreak that ANY mother can encounter. In addition, the constant relocation from military base to military base can negatively influence the child’s behavior, which can have a negative impact on their school life and friends.
To donate to our school supplies drive from July 24th – August 7th to benefit the children of Operation Sisterhood or learn more about the event, please click here.